WSJ: Advertisers Doing More And Less With Search

In case you didn’t see it there was an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning that seeks to capture a kind of shift or broadening of advertisers’ attitudes toward search marketing. Formerly search was something of an island and not well integrated into wider marketing campaigns. Many search + display studies and several years later it appears that marketers have developed a somewhat more nuanced view of search in the context of broader consumer behavior.

Here are some bits from the article:

Sprint is buying the top ads tied to phrases consumers tend to search for when they are close to making a purchase, such as “cellphone rate plans” and specific products like “Samsung Reclaim,” rather than more generic phrases they search for at the beginning of the shopping process, like “Sprint,” “AT&T” and “cellphone”  . . .

Volkswagen is coordinating its search marketing strategy with its network of 600 dealers across the country so it doesn’t end up competing against itself for the same terms and driving up prices…

[N]ew research from the search division of GroupM Search (a media buying and planning unit owned by ad holding company WPP) and online measurement firm comScore [ ] shows that consumers exposed to social media campaigns are likelier to search and click on that brand’s paid search ad.

“A few years ago, search was a little bit more progressive. Now, it’s mainstream,” says Simon McPhillips, director of media at Sprint. “The incumbents are trying to figure out, ‘What is the next new frontier?’

None of this is a surprise, nor do the examples above represent incredible sophistication on the part of marketers. It does however represent a widening of the “aperture” around search and search user behavior. As much as it may be driven by economics and not wanting to compete on brand or “generic” terms, which still constitute the majority of search queries, it reflects a better understanding that search queries occur in a larger context — of social media, display, traditional media and word-of-mouth-like viral behavior.

The article also speculates about how such trends are causing some slowing of search-ad spending at Google and how Google is pushing into other areas (display, video) as higher growth opportunities, as a consequence.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: DoubleClick | Search Ads: General | Search Marketing: Branding | Search Marketing: General

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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