4 Reasons for Search in the Economic Downturn

Posted by Dan Malachowski, Product Marketing Manager (Search and Performance Media)

1. Accountability: When the economy is down, advertisers’ budgets may force them to focus less on branding and more on tactics that yield short-term ROI, as well as build a foundation for long-term ROI.  Search is one of the most measurable forms of marketing.  If a search campaign is run properly, it’s easier to prove ROI than branding efforts.  It’s also common to quickly see significant increases in clicks and conversions upon implementing natural search changes to your site.

2. Branding: So you’re short on branding dollars.  Don’t worry because search is not only measurable, but also a great branding vehicle.  People trust the search engines.  When Google says that a certain product is most relevant for a certain keyword, people believe that.  Experiments by Google have shown that as a branding vehicle, paid search drives top of mind awareness.  The study also showed that if CPG brand dominates the SERP, awareness of their competitive set decreases.  Therefore, advertisers can use search to “own” certain keywords, thus branding themselves in the minds of searchers.  Search provides short-term ROI and long-term branding at the same time.

3. Value-Seeking Consumers:  In a down economy, consumers go out of their way to find the best value.  Search is the best way to do that.  In fact, as the economy tumbled in Q4 2008, Google saw an 18% year over year increase in paid clicks and Yahoo! noted that query volume was up 10% year over year.  Nielson just reported that Google search volume surged 28.5% from January ’08 to January ’09.  Your consumers are looking for you on the Web.  That means your messaging on the search results page (title and description), as well as your keyword strategy, could make a huge difference in driving qualified clicks to your site.  If you sell things people are searching for in the down economy- discounted items, free shipping, or even higher priced items that are durable- you need to catch the attention of your qualified customers by tailoring search marketing strategies towards them.

Consumers are spending more time on the Web in the down economy as they swap keys for keyboards or go on staycations.  This means more in-home online shopping, as well as a bigger investment in things like electronics or video games that make the home more enjoyable.  Search is a great way to create visibility for products that provide good value per entertainment dollar.

4. Your Competition: Your competition is either ranked higher than you in natural search, or trying to rank higher than you, regardless of the economy.  Your competition is either running a more effective and efficient paid search program than you, or they’re trying, regardless of the economy.  The New York Times reports that the number of advertisers on Google has grown to over 1.3 million.  Jupiter is predicting online ad spending to still grow 10.7% in 2009.  When the economy turns around, it may be too late to play “catch up.”

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