Search Beyond Search Engines Can Yield Valuable Data For Advertisers

When most people think, “search,” they automatically think Google. Well, think again. New data reveals that Google and its fellow search engines are not the only search game in town.

We recently hosted a webinar with comScore focused on search data, which examined search activity happening across core search (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) vs. non-search engines, such as e-commerce sites, shopping comparison engines and product review or vertically-focused sites. In December 2011, comScore discovered that nearly half (43%) of all searches occurred outside the top five core search engines.

Don’t Dismiss Data Being Generated Beyond Search Engines

What does this mean for marketers, publishers, and e-commerce players? Now that we know that all this search is taking place away from the major search engines, we can develop strategies for reaching this audience at the ripest time, using the proper search data. For publishers and e-commerce players, this means you can develop product offerings to take advantage of the data under your roof.

Look Under the Hood Of The Search Experience

As I take you through what comScore’s data means for marketers, I urge you to consider your own search experience.

Phase 1: Initial Search

If Sarah is in the market for a new TV, the most likely place for her to go is Google and type in “flat screen TV.” Let’s define this action as the “initial search.”

At this point in the game, Sarah is not ready to make a purchase. She needs to see what options are out there. As Sarah explores the results and links provided by Google, she will quickly move outside of the search engine (destinations could include Best Buy, Next Tag, etc) and carry on her quest for more information.

Phase 2: Consideration

As Sarah leaves the search engine and migrates across non-search engine properties, she will gather information on various products, brands and prices, refining her searches along the way. Let’s define this portion of the shopping experience as the “consideration phase” — also known as the retargeting opportunity.

As consumers search over the course of the consideration phase, data evolves based on their search terms and patterns. These interactions create opportunities for marketers to deploy search retargeting and site retargeting strategies.

If advertisers want to influence a consumer during the consideration phase, it’s essential to leverage the latest touch points (i.e. search data and website interactions) to identify key audiences and then reach them effectively with relevant ad messages that highlight special promotions, specific products, etc. This helps to push consumers even further down the purchasing funnel and ultimately influence them before they return to the search engines and revise their search.

Phase 3: Revised Search

Depending on the product or service, it could be hours, days or even weeks before a searcher leaves the consideration phase. At this point, consumers often return to Google and revise their search based on what information they’ve gathered, ads they might have seen, and any other information that may influence their purchase decision.

In the case of Sarah, she might revise her Google search from “flat screen TV” to “Samsung PN43E450.” At this point, the retargeting opportunity has passed, and only price or product availability might influence her purchase decision.

Search Data Creates Retargeting Opportunities

ComScore’s statistics indicate that search runs deep. It runs far deeper than search engines, and even search engine marketing. Today’s growth of search activity and availability of search data enables advertisers to harness the intent from search and apply it to the scale of display.

While more than half of all searches continue to flow through Google and its core search companions, billions upon billions of searches occur on non-search engine environments every month. It’s these entities which capture some of the most valuable data for advertisers.

Next time you think of search, think beyond search engines, consider the value of search data, how you can leverage it in display advertising, and most of all, what the customer experience is telling you.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column


About The Author: is chief executive officer at search retargeting leader Magnetic charged with driving overall company expansion and building out Magnetic’s search retargeting infrastructure.

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  • DiVi Fernando

    Makes me reconsider our SEO marketing strategies… thanks James for the lovely article that shows you what is right in front of you and has been missed all these days


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