Marketing Innovation: Spark Foundry, Asda

Spark Foundry’s clever tool ‘Search Harmony’ wowed the judges for   assessing competitor activity on an hour-by-hour basis, letting Asda make real-time decisions on its search spend. The agency won the PMW Marketing Innovation Award for settling 'the biggest debate in search'. 

Marketing Innovation

Spark Foundry

Settling the biggest debate in search, Asda

Paid search is one of the few channels that experienced an increase in spend during Covid-19. Yet for some time it’s been the subject of a polarising debate in the world of performance marketing, with many questioning whether you should pay for branded keywords. If someone is searching for your brand, does it make sense to allocate budget to paid ads? Or do you leave your search ‘unprotected’, allowing competitors to seal your traffic? 

The problem is, brands only know that competitors are bidding on their brand name after the fact, but not specifically when. Spark Foundry found a middle ground to tackle the issue. 

It created ‘Search Harmony’, a solution which automatically assesses competitor activity on an hour-by-hour basis, allowing brands to make real-time decisions on their search spend.

Spark Foundry tested this with Asda, with the supermarket allocating a part of its search budget on branded terms. The size of the brand meant that any deviation in spend could jeopardise millions in revenue but using a tool like Search Harmony could make search much more efficient. Search Harmony monitored activity, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. As brands like Amazon bid, the system automatically bid against them, upweighting the bidding limit to ensure Search Harmony won. But when no one else was bidding, paid search was ‘switched off’ and organic listings used to convert the traffic for free.

Results showed that more than half of all searches saw no competition. Search Harmony has helped to save budget so it can be reinvested into other channels, and also attracted new business for Spark Foundry. 


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