In recent years, the process of “searching” has moved far beyond the traditional Google desktop search bar. Consumers are leveraging retail sites (e.g. Amazon, Walmart), apps, social, wearables, connected “things,” voice (e.g. Siri, Alexa) and even their car dashboards to find what they need, in the moment. As search expands, so does search marketing. In this Briefing, we take a look at the evolution of search and how it is currently revolutionizing SEM.
Amazon has become a one-stop-shop for searchers. During the 2015 holiday season, consumers preferred to use Amazon vs. Google for product search—39% to 8%.
Users can leverage Amazon directly to search, research (read reviews) and buy. For many, Amazon has become a habit that seems unbreakable. Amazon also now leverages voice and visual search. With Amazon Echo, users can tell Alexa to put items in their Amazon carts. Amazon also incorporates a visual search tool that enables users to price check and research while on-the-go, snapping pictures of products and receiving Amazon buying options (showrooming).
And where searchers are, advertisers follow. New Amazon Sponsored Search connects advertisers with consumers at the digital point-of-sale on Amazon—driving incremental revenue. It works similar to traditional paid search; advertisers’ ads are triggered to appear based on keywords searched for on Amazon. One Performics client found a 4X higher return-on-investment (ROI) year-over-year vs. regular old Google search. Amazon is now considered an extension of holistic paid search strategy for the client.
Similarly, HookLogic enables advertisers to connect with searchers on retail sites. HookLogic is a retail search engine exchange that engages in-market searchers with product listing, CPC-based search ads on ecommerce sites like Best Buy or Walmart. Ads appear natively on the shopping sites, helping advertisers convert shoppers directly at their preferred online point-of-sale. Retail search sites are particularly powerful for CPG brands.
For one Performics client, about 40% of paid search revenue came through retail search (Amazon, HookLogic) in 2015.
Consumers are also leveraging social media as a search tool. Recently, Pinterest unveiled a Visual Search feature, which enables consumers to search within the platform using images rather than text. Visual Search, combined with Buyable Pins, gives Pinterest users a search experience that’s unique from any other platform.
For some time, mobile beacons have stirred up buzz about the future of search and how consumers shop. Mobile beacons are designed to provide consumers with specific ads based on their search and shopping habits; they send signals to smartphones of in-store shoppers, recognizing their search habits and providing them with promotional ads. And with car manufacturers loading up their vehicles with Wi-Fi, beacons can now be used to custom-target ads to car dashboards as your drive by stores that you like.
Speaking of cars, Apple CarPlay is already in full gear—a platform that provides drivers with a hands-free smart screen mimicking their iPhone display. This technology will eventually allow cars to leverage consumer behavior, driving habits and smartphone usage to display ads based on data collected.
For example, a consumer may search for specific household appliances on their smartphone. The consumer then connects their phone to Apple CarPlay and begins driving; if the direction they’re headed is the same as a store that offers the appliances the consumer was searching, Apple CarPlay may provide an ad on-screen for the driver, suggesting to stop at that store for a specific sale/promotional offer.
Looking into the future, Internet of Things (IoT) data could be used to provide relevant ads for consumers, based on the information these things have collected and grown to understand. An example of this would be a smart refrigerator knowing when a specific food, like yogurt, has spoiled and providing ads to a consumer’s smartphone to purchase more, or perhaps automatically reordering it for you.
At this point, consumers may not even need to search at all; information/products will be automatically delivered to them based on need. “Search” then becomes a passive pursuit, not a constant process of search and refine. Advertisers must then leverage the data that people create in their everyday lives to power predictive experiences that deliver upon searcher intent, even if the searcher doesn’t explicitly ask for something.
The future of search is no longer limited to the SERP; search is expanding at a rapid rate across retail, social, cars, IoT and more. This gives advertisers and brands the opportunity to target consumers with more engaging experiences—at the right time, place and moment.