Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Don't Think of Search in Isolation

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Don't Think of Search in Isolation

Article excerpt

In 1954, the year he released That's all right, there was just one Elvis Presley. By his death in 1977, there were 170 Elvis impersonators One website has estimated that there are now more than 85,000 and at this rate of growth, by 2019 they will make up a third of the world's population.

Back in the late-90s, this anecdote was often used to satirise the endless supply of projections about the growth of the internet. But the continued growth of paid search - the advertising taken by Google et al - is sticking two fingers up at such scepticism.

Search marketing in the UK grew 58% in the first six months of last year and there is no sign that this rate is abating. Google is widely expected to be the fourth-biggest media company by revenue in the world this year, and in the UK, the paid-search market is already bigger than radio.

But the dizzying growth of search and the powerful results it creates for businesses is creating a dangerous tunnel vision among online marketers, who risk losing sight of how consumers make a purchase decision.

It has always been recognised that different media work together. Campaigns are created across TV, press and outdoor, reflecting consumers' consumption of media and the different strengths of each medium.

Online search, however, is often treated as something different. The ability to measure a cost per sale on search ads is extremely attractive to marketers, who have laboured for years under the disbelieving eye of their financial director. So there is a temptation to attribute the creation of a sale to the last step in the acquisition process - often a search - and call this 'accountability'.

The impact of TV, press or other internet ad formats is ignored, because the last step was a search. Even understanding that these other channels might have influenced the inception of a search is not enough. We need to understand the degree to which these media affect searches to assess their true value, and recognise the precise role they play, both in strategy and reality.

Search operators understand this interdependence, which is why Google is developing display products, MSN launched Adcenter to integrate the management of display and search, and Yahoo! is rebuilding its interface with advertisers to move seamlessly between search and display.

Yet many advertisers and agencies continue to manage search, affiliate marketing and display in silos - using different tracking systems and key performance indicators, separate teams and companies. …

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