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Case Study on Rockford RibFest's Summer BBQ Festival

Objective of Case Study:  To demonstrate that PPC can be effective in low budget, seasonal online marketing campaigns.

Background:  Rockford Ribfest is a charitable organization that raises funds to support diabetes programs at the Crusader Clinic of Rockford.  The organizations main event is a summer cookout and music festival, usually held the last week in July.  The event features sizzlin' lip smackin' ribs, and other food.  Music is mostly blues, but other types are featured as well.

While Rockford Ribfest is a local event, it is not that well known in the Rockford area.  The management wanted to use online advertising to become better known in Rockford, and to draw people from the western Chicago suburbs, Madison, and Milwaukee.  Their web site enjoyed a top ten ranking on Yahoo! search engine for the word 'ribfest'.  However, the site was not ranked for other keywords like 'barbeque', 'music festival', etc.  Advertising was to run for a period of about 6 weeks up to the day of the festival (July 23, 2005). 

Screen Capture Rockford RibFest

Screen Capture Rockford Ribfest Home

Intro Page Rockford Ribfest

Feature Page Rockford Ribfest

Process:  See the steps and commentary.

Step 1:  Using Yahoo! Search's Keyword Tool and Google's Keyword Tool, search words were researched that concentrated on the type of food, the music, and the locality.  Other local summer festivals were also used as keywords. Ads were written following the editorial guidelines of each search provider.  See the table below.

Step 2:  The ads were set up regionally in Google Adwords, and nationally in Yahoo! Sponsored Search.  In this case, Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search was not used because the organization did not have a physical storefront (required by Yahoo!). 

Click on the images for a larger view

Screen Capture of Keywords within Google AdWords

Screen Capture of Representative Google Ad

Screen Capture of Yahoo! Sponsored Search Ad

Google Screen Shot of Keywords An Ad as it Appeared in Google AdWords Multiple Ads Written in Yahoo! Search

Screen Capture of Ad as It Appears on Google

Screen Capture of Ad as It Appears on Yahoo!

Ad as it Appeared in Sponsored Section on Google Ad as it Appeared in Sponsored Section of Yahoo! Sponsored Search

Step 3:  Conversion tracking is a process where simple JavaScript code is placed on the landing page of the ad.  The landing page is the web site page visitors go to when they click on the ad.  Conversion tracking is useful to see how many people actually visited the festival after they visited the web page.  A useful conversion tracking method, for example, would be to offer a coupon for a free Coke which they could bring to the festival and redeem.

In this case study, conversion tracking was suggested, but not implemented by the web host. 

Step 4:  Progress of the campaign was monitored.  During the last several days of the campaign, the daily average cost per click was increased to generate more visibility to viewers.  Screen captures of the keyword summary reports are shown below.  Summary results for the top performing keywords are provided in Table 1.


Screen Capture of Google Keyword Summary

Screen Capture of Yahoo! Keyword Summary

Google AdWords Keyword Summary

Yahoo! Search Keyword Summary

Table 1.  Keyword Performance Comparisons for Rockford Ribfest


Google AdWords Results

Yahoo! Sponsored Search Results





Avg Pos.




Avg Pos.
ribfest 3999 93 2.3 2 957 10 1.0 1.
rockford 19466 68 .3 7 10243 86 0.8 1.8
chicago event 9425 157 1.7 2 12 0 0.0 5.6
festival illinois 2216 87 3.9 1 858 34 4.0 1.2
rockford register star 10393 105 1 1 882 7 0.8 1.1
rockford illinois 13216 62 .5 5 1934 49 2.5 1.9
barbeque festival 1880 25 1.3 1 24 2 8.3 1.7
rib fest 2842 66 2.3 2 391 18 4.6 1.
rockford chamber of commerce 761 23 3.0 2 13 0 0.0 1.
rockin rib fest 439 19 4.3 1 na      
festival rockford 344 9 2.6 1 na      
q98.5 358 10 2.8 1 na      
97zok 160 9 5.6 1 na      
chicago summer event 901 14 1.6 2 na      
rockford event 107 8 7.5 2 na      
rockford speedway 1317 30 2.3 1 na      
bbq ribs na       32 4 12.5 2.3
city of rockford na       345 6 1.7 1
illinois festivals na       98 3 3.1 1.4
festival na       902 20 2.2 1.2
milwaukee summer fest na       2839 15 0.5 1
Total All 105482 1030 1.0 3 106980 587 0.5 2.5

Impressions:  the number of times the ad is displayed.  CTR:  The number of times the ad is clicked on as a percentage of the number of times displayed.

Observations:  While many some keywords in Google also performed well in Yahoo!, it is also clear that major differences exist in the conversion results.   We can suspect that is due to a number of factors:

  • Each search engine has a different type of visitor.  It is unlikely the same visitor would visit both Google and Yahoo! and click on the Rockford Ribfest ad.

  • The ads are different for each engine as mandated by editorial guidelines.  Therefore, the appeal of the ad will be different to the visitor.

  • Impressions and position on are determined in different manners for each engine.  Yahoo! provides for the user selecting position by ad cost.  Google limits impressions based on the daily budget, and has their own treatment on position. 

Conclusions:  A business's exposure will be increased by running online ads in both Google and Yahoo! if the marketing budget and ROI justifies doing so.  A business should experiment with different keywords in each engine to optimize long term results.

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