Intel is recognized as a high-performance computing brand worldwide, even though it doesn't directly sell to consumers. A key element of Intel's brand building strategy over the years has been Search. Although it's traditionally viewed as the go-to channel for conversions, for Intel, Search plays vital roles as a a vehicle for insights, a media channel to generate awareness and demand and even as a measure of marketing success. Learn how Intel uses Search to attract its broad audience-from consumers to business/IT professionals-using a comprehensive and targeted keyword and content strategy.


  • Intel aims to reach its constantly connected audience, consumers and business/IT professionals by creating impact and driving brand engagement—all in an effort to build its customer base.


  • Understanding the audience: Intel uses search insights to better understand consumer online behavior and preferences such as the products and services they’re searching for most and the language they use in their search queries.
  • Reaching the audience: Intel advertises against a wide range of keywords, such as affinity, category and branded keywords to capture all the needs of its diverse audience.
  • Engaging the audience: Intel capitalizes on search ad formats, such as sitelinks and extensions, to deliver key brand messages to consumers based on their needs and drive them to the appropriate, tailored landing pages.
June 2014

For the past 40+ years, Intel has achieved an admirable marketing feat: Despite the fact that it doesn’t sell directly to consumers, it’s a brand that people know and associate with high-performance computing products and services.

Before the internet took off, Intel built its brand with high-profile TV campaigns and its ubiquitous “Intel Inside” branding. But different times call for a different approach. Search, through 12 years of proven results, has become integral to Intel’s entire marketing and brand-building strategy. It plays three critical roles: It’s a media channel (search advertising); it’s a vehicle for insights (search behavior and trends) and it’s even a measure of success in its own right (eventdriven search spikes).

Search: The media channel for interested audiences

Over the last decade, Intel’s search efforts have become increasingly sophisticated. But despite search advertising’s heritage as a direct response channel, most of Intel’s search activities are not directly tied to online conversions. Reaching its audiences—both consumers and business/IT professionals—and ushering them to relevant content is the priority. “Ultimately, it’s about reaching our audience and creating an impact and effective brand engagement. And search delivers a more engaged audience than any other digital medium,” says Corey Carrillo, Intel’s global search and online marketing manager.

“The people we’re reaching with paid search are part of an active audience,” says Carrillo. “These folks have a specific question in mind and they turn to search to get answers. Intel hopes that those answers start with one of our ads.”

Keywords and content to reach all interests

To greet those active audiences, Intel is both comprehensive and targeted in its keyword and content strategy. There’s no one-size-fits-all experience. It advertises against a wide range of keywords to address the array of needs and interests of its audiences, and it ensures each one is carefully mapped to relevant content experiences. This is true throughout the consumer’s journey, whether someone’s ready to buy or just discovering what Intel has to offer.

For example, Intel uses branded keywords (for example, “Intel Ultrabook”) to drive people to consumer-friendly campaign pages and category keywords (for example, “tablets” or “2 in 1”) that pay off with useful product info and specs. Intel also covers a range of affinity keywords to address the business IT community (for example “what is big data?”) and takes those searchers to B2B pages positioning Intel as a “trusted partner across the compute continuum," says Carrillo. The goal is for the Intel brand to be there always, and to be as relevant and helpful as possible.

Smart creative engages the audience

In addition to having a comprehensive keyword strategy and content relevant to a range of needs, Intel also uses search ad formats to build its brand presence and deliver a great customer experience.

For example, Intel makes sure its ads appear on key brand terms, such as “Intel,” “Ultrabook” and “Intel 2 in 1,” and then uses ad extensions to amplify key pieces of content or timely messages. And although the term “2 in 1” is dominated by the consumer experience, Intel uses sitelinks to ensure any business searchers can be quickly directed to B2B content for 2 in 1s, saving them unnecessary content hunting.

The benefit of capitalizing on search ad formats like sitelinks/extensions is twofold: Intel can ensure its brand and key messages are prominent on the page and it can deliver greater relevance and efficient experiences for the searcher. Both help to build the Intel brand.

How it all computes

While an Intel conversion ultimately happens beyond the Intel site, the company measures other web actions to gauge brand impact. It turns to Google Analytics to track traditional post-click metrics such as the content consumed and at what rate it is consumed and creates its own internal measure for every campaign and keyword. This “preference engagement rate” is then used to optimize campaigns.

For us, now, paid search engine marketing is not an add on or adjunct. It’s a core component for integrated marketing. We basically do not launch a product, an initiative or any new web content without some sort of search component, and that’s more often than not paid search.

The preference engagement rate differs by audience and the types of pages consumed. For example, actions tracked on a consumer page are different than those with a B2B focus. On the consumer side, Intel tracks not only a person’s engagement on a page, optimizing and setting goals based on those actions, but it watches if that person ultimately clicks through to a where-to-buy experience through its own site or an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). On the business side, the company looks at the preference engagement rate for content consumed and then looks at what happens next, for example, if a person reading about big data signs up for more insights from Intel and becomes a participant in its IT Center community.

Search insights

While Intel uses search to help create and stoke interest, the brand also uses it as a tool for understanding consumer behavior and preferences. For example, years ago when Intel was communicating its Centrino technology messaging, it discovered that almost no one was searching for its preferred term “notebook.” “At the time, we referred to laptops as notebooks and that was Intel kind of pushing the word notebook,” Carrillo says. “But for Joe consumer, a laptop is a laptop. And it will always be a laptop.” So, Intel began using the word “laptop” in its web copy, brand messages and keyword buys to truly cater to consumer behavior.

Since then, turning to search for such insights has become rooted in the company’s ongoing marketing operations. Whether launching a product or developing new brand messaging, from TV advertising to web experiences to digital headlines, various Intel departments turn to the search team as a “center of excellence” for consumer insights. Partner teams can then understand what’s trending and what terms people actually search for to inform real marketing decisions across a range of activities.

Additionally, Intel uses search as a way to experiment with creative messaging in the wild, using the search environment for headline testing for its other digital and advertising media. “It’s an easy way to get an immediate read,” notes Carrillo.

Search as a yardstick for success

Because the entire Intel organization values search’s role as both a reflection of and capturer of consumer demand, search has become a measure of success in its own right. Its data can represent how well the broader Intel marketing efforts are delivering against company strategy. For example, going into 2014, Intel was driving the Ultrabook story before splitting out a whole new category: the 2 in 1. Consumers had no idea what a 2 in 1 was, but Intel delivered messaging across various media to establish the category, then used search to reinforce the message and help build that category. Search trend data proved that the 2 in 1 category was indeed growing, and AdWords data was able to prove that Intel ads were capturing the demand created for the category. In essence, search helped Intel establish and create a new category altogether.

In addition, search data is used to understand how well other campaigns are working to ignite specific interest. For example, when a TV campaign launches, Intel monitors search traffic to understand if, how and when consumers responded to its message. Spikes in search activity clearly show this.

Search at the center

Search is a versatile brand building tool. As such, Intel sees it as the connector within a multi-channel strategy. “It’s the easiest way to come in and see what the audience is doing and what they’re responding to,” remarks Carrillo.

By maximizing search’s role, Intel continues to greet its audiences across all relevant moments of interest or inquiry, not only building its customer base and brand engagement but ultimately floating the entire category in which Intel technology is incorporated.