We can all feel how the search landscape is changing. Every day I hear a new stat – 50% of search in 2020 will be voice, search queries are getting longer with 50% now over four words, and using an image within search results increases the likelihood of conversion by up to 40%. I could go on.
Search is the primary indicator of changing consumer behaviour. It is estimated that people today interact with up to 200 digital touchpoints before visiting a store or completing a purchase online. The conversion path is now so dynamic that when we consider partners, we need to react with it. The stat that even some of my most sophisticated clients raise an eyebrow at is that 40% of product searches are direct to Amazon vs. Google, which receives 30%.
So what does this mean for the brands and advertisers? How do big and small players prepare for the battle? How do they make sure they stay in the search game and win the consumer amid the digital pollution and noise of the competition?
Shopper marketing vs. channel marketing
The answer, first and foremost, lies in focusing on shopper marketing vs. channel marketing.
One way to achieve this is to embrace the ‘holistic search’ approach, not only by integrating paid and organic search into a single search strategy, but also by rolling it out into the broader search ecosystem beyond ‘traditional’ search engines.
For example, OMD has delivered this approach for Bacardi by expanding its search activities directly into its retailer domains using Criteo’s machine learning technology (formerly known as HookLogic). The campaign helped the brand to overcome the fierce competition on the retailer sites and delivered outstanding results – over 700% ROAS and gaining half of the market share for the promoted products.
Levi’s closely follow suit, and has taken a step further to penetrate the ‘walled gardens’ of Amazon Search (AMS) in a bid to overcome the crowded organic space and firmly establish its dominance on Amazon. But despite endless commercial opportunities on Amazon, the challenges for search marketers are immense – AMS activation and management is fundamentally different from that on ‘traditional search engines’.
To overcome this challenge, OMD teamed up with Levi’s and Kenshoo, as a product design partner, to help the development of the AMS management solution which allows for AMS campaign management on scale. Within a month of on-boarding, OMD managed to scale up Levi’s AMS campaigns increasing traffic by 500% and delivering 4x more sales. As a result, Levi’s is now considering including AMS into the framework of its always-on search strategy.
So while media players continue the race of innovation to meet the modern consumer’s expectation of immediate access to information and goods at the snap of their fingers (or voice!), search evolves as an organic part of daily life.
Approaching search holistically
It is therefore important that brands and marketers start approaching search holistically in the context of the consumer path to purchase. Multi-channel API integrations, pursued by marketing software companies, marketing analytics and attribution solutions, can help in providing adequate measurement framework to understand the impact of each channel on overall search performance.
This may not be achieved overnight while many brands still operate in silos with little collaboration between brand and performance marketing, and a lack of coordination between marketing and merchandising or the online and offline. However, marketers are best positioned to lead clients towards consumer-centric strategies using the wealth of cross-vertical expertise and technology solutions they possess.