Search marketing in 2012: ads are just answers
At Google, we believe that the future of marketing is simpler than you might think. Marketers are familiar with all sorts of specialized terms: branding, creatives, assets, CPC, multi-channel, etc.
But as we see it, at the end of the day ads are just answers: and the future of marketing lies in anticipating the right questions.
It used to be that many marketers started their campaign by asking “how do I convince people that they want to buy this product? How do I convince them that they want this service?”
The classic advertising campaign is about using marketing to create need; the ad men of yesterday told us, the consumers, what we wanted.
Search engine marketing changed that by forcing advertisers ask themselves quite literally what their customers wanted--in other words, what their customers were searching for. The beauty of search engine marketing is that it isn’t about the what the advertiser wants to sell: it’s about what consumers want to buy.
This model has since proven enormously effective. That’s because at the end of the day, the most effective search ad is just an answer to a question: what camera should I buy? Where should I eat dinner? What should I buy my mother for her birthday?
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a simple problem. There’s a big difference between a straightforward question like “how much does this digital camera cost” and something more abstract, like “what should I do on Friday night?”.
Search engine marketing started as three lines of text--which at the time was probably the most simple type of advertising that existed--but it’s evolved into much more. Now, search ads are multimedia-rich, location-aware and socially-amplified.
As the web has evolved, so has our ability to help advertisers answer ever more complex questions. At Google, some of the changes we’ve made have been simple, like letting advertisers direct people to specific pages of their website by including site links in their ads.
Other changes have been much more complex, like enabling marketers to include images, videos, and information such as whether your friends recommend the ad or not. For example: if someone is searching for a local movie theatre, it’s likely that they’re actually looking to see what movies are out. In that case, it makes sense to show them an ad that includes a movie trailer they can play fright from their search results.
These ads are rich and beautiful, but they’re still really just giving people answers. And the better the ads are giving people what they’re looking for, the better the returns for marketers. Consider this: on average, ads with three rows of links are more than 50 percent likely to get clicked on than ads without the extra links. Why? Because they get the user that much closer to what they’re looking for. In fact, ads that include images of products, videos, and social information all generate more clicks for advertisers.
We’ve found that when marketers start their campaigns by thinking about what their customer wants (as opposed to what the marketer wishes their customers wanted), everyone benefits. People find the goods and services they’re looking for, and advertisers grow their business and their ads. In 2012, I hope marketers will keep it simple and remember: ads are just answers.
Loren Shuster, Country Director, Singapore & Emerging Markets
Loren Shuster is the Country Director for Singapore, and oversees the development of Google’s operations in the country and in emerging markets across Southeast Asia.