Search marketing accounted for half of all UK digital ad spend in 2018 and for brands, it’s all about making it easy for consumers to find them easily on the internet. As this industry continues to mature, the misconceptions and misunderstandings around it, from marketers are impacting the marketing process, according to The Drum Search Awards 2019 judging panel.
What are the greatest misconceptions when it comes to implementing search in marketing strategies? At Search Awards 2019 judging day (entries for 2020 are now open), we spoke to industry experts from Lego, iCrossing, Neo, Jellyfish, Volkswagen at PHD Global and Telegraph Media Group on the most pressing issues facing search marketing at the moment.
Shiny social formats
One thing that Emily Van Lierop, global head of search and social, Volkswagen at PHD Global sees often with marketing directors, is those on the client side who oversee multi-channels but are only looking at shiny formats like Facebook, “which don’t translate to search,” she said.
Marketers sometimes have expectations or become a bit worried by some of the more glamourous images and video formats. “That trend will come to search as well,” Van Lierop continued. “Lead ad format. YouTube is going to be bringing that as a format but the whole concept is taking a lead directly to your CRM system (or whichever your lead platform is) and going around the website.”
The growing issue will come from those who are only using on site metrics to track the impact of search by paid and organic. “You might fall short in the future with regards to the different ad formats,” Van Lierop added.
Search is not a channel
Many marketers are looking at search as a challenge, thinks Luis Navarrete Gómez
head of global search marketing at LEGO Group. The industry tends to think about conversion and revenue, KPIs and how they can measure that. However, the biggest misconception, according to Navarrete Gómez, is that search is not a channel, it's an experience that happens across multiple channels.
“A potential customer might search for a product on Google, Amazon, a product demonstration on YouTube or an app that might support their experience later on. The audiences, I see quite often, are still very structured in channels.
“Take a look at the PPC team and the SEO team, who don't normally talk much to each other. If you want to do something a little bit more advance on Amazon, either they don't have the capabilities or they need to have someone or they have a team that sits in the US because that's where the Amazon specialists are sitting. How are we really being audience first when the last thing that we think about is the audience?”
Looking holistically at how audiences are engaging with brands across search as an experience, added Gómez, the industry still looking at SEO, paid web search and Amazon search as a channel. They are trying to measure that out but it's very difficult to join those channels and understand what is really the brand experience that you have when you search.
Contributing to awareness
Another misconception is that search doesn't contribute to the awareness part of the Google funnel, insisted Rob Pierre, chief executive officer of Jellyfish.
One conversation Pierre said he’s having with clients is about using search to gain awareness in the funnel. Currently, the impressions you get through a large search campaign are not really measured in the attribution model that you're getting if somebody searches it, he suggests. “You're on the landscape but no one has clicked on it. They don't measure the point that you become synonymous with a service or a product.
“If you keep showing up on the landscape through your search activity, it's normally always put into the performance part. What they believe is that programmatic or above the line, is what creates the awareness and then you're supposed to sweep it up with search.”
Michelle Wilding, head of SEO and content at the Telegraph Media Group insists that many people still want to know their rankings. Rankings are important but she questions what is that traffic going to do? What's the goal and why should we target these large key words? “It’s because it's got relevance, I think relevance is a big thing. We need to educate that, although you might be number one in the rankings, why aren't you getting performance?”
She added: “You have to educate your colleagues or clients. Search volumes have gone down year on year, so you're not getting as much traffic through that you can still hold your positions. There's this misconception that number one opposition zero is fine. It's not.”
This is not a shock to the system for clients, they’re fine with it said Wilding. “Once you demystify the misconception. 54% of people on mobile don't even click through anymore. Being number one isn't the be all and end all.”
Measuring click through
With all the changes that are happening at the moment, the industry needs to be able to come up with a way of attributing value across different forms of search, as the behaviour rather than a platform, claimed Curtis Sinclair, head of biddable at Neo.
“Particularly when we're looking at holistic search, there are issues with regards to text stack and being tied to Google with regards to many brands who are using Google Analytics,” he explained.
“However, if you're a retail brand, for example, you've got a number of different avenues all which are attributing different values to the activity that you are doing. That's a challenge I don't think many brands or agencies have their heads around.”
For a lot of iCrossing’s paid search clients, who have been stuck on a last click model and using Google Analytics for so long, they are now having discussions around spending to much.
“They’re asking if there is 15% of their spend that's driving no incremental return,” said Allyson Griffiths, head of strategy and planning at iCrossing.
“They're having conversations about how we can better invest in e.g. Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads etc whatever it is and that's only going to get more prevalent as different attribution models are introduced and adopted.”
Sinclair concluded: “It speaks of the structure of how many marketing departments are broken out. It speaks of the fact that we're looking at metrics that are, at the moment, of search and one of the things that we should be thinking about is what happens after search as well.”