Darwinian chase through search

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Darwinian chase through search
Darwinian chase through search
Cifci says that Walgreens has tripled the mobile portion of its search budget. "If you were to look at our search clicks that we receive, mobile accounts for 20% to 25% of our campaigns, depending on the month." As many companies have begun to do, Cifci says that Walgreens will be launching a mobile site by the end of April that will optimize the delivery of location-related information to users.

Walgreens is also optimizing for the increased adoption of instant search, says Cifci. He said that the feature, which Google launched last September, has had "no impact that we can speak of right now" but that he expects that to change. 

By updating the results page as a user types, a user who intends to search for "Sears" could type "sea" and be presented with a page in which SeaWorld tops the results rankings, potentially redirecting the user away from their initial search. Adam Bunn, SEO director at search marketing agency Greenlight, says that instant search forces advertisers to "think what are the stages that people are going to do an instant search for within a keyword. It's still the same SEO tactic or bidding 
approach, but it broadens what you need to be focusing on into a big basket of keywords."

At a more tangible level, instant search affects the way that Google measures impressions for advertisers. Now, impressions are counted if a user clicks on instant search results or if instant results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds. This impacts advertisers who employ AdWords on a pay-per-impression scale. 

It also impacts marketers who have yet to navigate their focus to optimizing instant search. Tim Holstein, director of sales and marketing at software developer SalesPad Solutions which uses Acxiom's analytics services, says that instant search has indirectly increased the traffic driven to the company's site. 

"It used to be the only way you would have been 
presented with an offer from our site was to type 'salespad' exactly," says Holstein, whose company's software specializes in enhancing business tool Microsoft 
Dynamics GP, formerly known as Great Plains. 

Although marketers such as SalesPad Solutions may indirectly benefit from search engines' newest features, they are best served by engaging and integrating the latest technologies as marketing tools. 

"I think that the search marketer should definitely be thinking about how can I get found in all the paths 
that my users might be taking around the Web," 
says Shar VanBoskirk, VP and principal analyst at 
Forrester Research. 

Volkswagen represents one such marketer. The car company leaked its "The Force" commercial online before February's Super Bowl and used search, social media and YouTube to generate buzz around the ad — as well as 13.7 million views prior to kickoff. 

Volkswagen, which worked with its global media AOR MediaCom, monitored that pregame buzz via social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter to 
optimize the campaign's search marketing component by owning keywords associated with the effort.

Searching for what's next

The search engines trade on their ability to deliver relevant information to users. The evolution of the results page from 10 blue links to entries augmented with multimedia, maps, "likes" and tweets has challenged marketers to engage consumers on a more personalized level. Unlike a decade ago when most could not imagine the rise of universal search, the next evolution of search may be even more immediate, more interactive and more integrated. 

According to Elliott, Google is currently beta-testing the ability to check a single store's inventory via a search engine. Cifci says that Walgreens is "discussing providing local inventory pricing information" to the search engines. This development does not seem altogether inventive as many e-commerce sites feature the ability to search a local store's inventory. What would be inventive, however, is the ability to conduct those searches without keywords.

"I do believe that Yahoo, Bing and Google are heading down that path of creating a mobile search experience where users potentially won't be typing. They'll be talking or taking videos or taking pictures of [objects] and getting results back in a fairly real-time environment," says Shenk. 

Existing augmented reality applications like Google Goggles and Bing Vision offer mobile users the ability to conduct searches via their phones' camera. Currently, the apps primarily handle searches related to physical landmarks or scan barcodes and cover jackets for books, CDs, DVDs and video games. 

However, Shenk imagines a near future in which those apps will also be able to identify a pair of sneakers someone is wearing and render a results page that also maps local stores that carry the product. That will rely on backend development requiring precision correlation between images and exact products. Then again, only a few years ago social search still required a friend to be in the room.

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