The latest numbers are out on who is winning the search wars and it’s still Google.
What’s important about this month is that it is the first time that Bing has beaten Yahoo. As you can see Bing’s growth has been at the expense of Yahoo and the floundering AOL sites. Google has been strong and steady but not growing.
This battle is important for us to watch because through our ad builder we buy local search campaigns for independent dealers, Google’s 65% share gets our attention and all of our dollars. At some point in the future, when Bing reaches about 33% share, we’ll add Bing to the choices for our retailers. Right now Bing’s not worth the extra cost and confusion.
Here are the results from a study by Harris Interactive that asked marketers what works best in reaching local markets.
These results are right in line with what our clients are asking for in the ad builders we build for them. More than ever brand managers want digital outputs in addition to the more traditional newspaper ads and brochures that are already being generated online by their dealers.
The reason is simple. More consumers are spending more time online than ever before and certainly when searching for a product, it’s the number one place consumers go first.
When you combine the brand message with local promotions, local prices and the extra services that are offered by a local retailer, you have everything a consumer needs to make a purchase decision.
Exposing a co-branded dealer microsite in your dealer locator results page (instead of sending an interested consumer to the dealer’s site loaded with competitive information), as a landing page for a banner ad campaign or use it for a landing page in a local Google search campaign. It makes a lot of sense according to this study.
Here’s a good benchmark for setting your advertising budget as it relates to online spending.
Here’s an interesting report from WebVisible documenting how much small and medium size businesses are spending on search advertising. You can download the full report here.
We have to remember that these numbers are taken from a wide variety of SMBs and include florists to doctors. However it’s inescapable to conclude that the idea of buying keywords for local markets is growing and that if you have a lot of retailers out there the amount of money collectively they’re spending on search is noteworthy.
This report shows an almost $9,000 annual spend per retailer. If you have 1,000 retailers this would add $9 million to your search spend. That’s powerful if you could control the buy and the landing pages. It could be devastating if you don’t have any input into what’s happening locally online.
That’s why we’re working right now with leading brand names to add local search campaigns to their ad builders. Helping your retailers buy keywords and helping them create and manage the landing pages is the smart way to increase and improve a brand’s online presence. Making the buy co-opable is an even better idea.
I’m picking up this story from the Guardian in England, so I won’t vouch for their numbers but even if they’re half right this should put a scare into US newspapers thinking of putting up a paywall for their content.
The Guardian story claims that almost 90% of the Times of London online readers have abandoned the site rather than pay a fee to read the articles.
This information won’t help US newspaper publishers sleep any better as many, including the New York Times, have announced plans to charge readers to view articles online within the coming year. Free is a stubborn thing to take back once your customers have gotten spoiled by the concept. Not to mention the fact that so much of the content newspapers want to charge for is available free elsewhere on the Internet.
So what is a newspaper to do? They’re losing money on the print edition and can’t seem to charge enough for online advertising to offset the cost of providing the site while also enduring the losses from the print edition.
I don’t have an answer for them but I’m concerned about the ultra fragmentation of local advertising that will take place if such stalwarts of local advertising fall by the wayside. Will we have to find the best local blogs in every city and negotiate a banner ad buy with each one of them? I hope not.
Local advertising has been all about technological change these past 10 or 15 years as the Internet has become the place where consumers spend their time. Recently we read where White Page phone directories are becoming a thing of the past and yesterday we saw where Amazon sells more e-books than hardcover books.
In the past three months Amazon claims to have sold 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books during the same time period. In the past four weeks the ratio was even greater at 180 e-books to every 100 hardcovers.
What all this means to those of us looking for better ways to advertise to potential customers locally is that we have to adapt to technology and provide our retailers with the tools they need to play in the digital arena. Yesterday’s online ad builder that helps produce print materials is still relevant, just not as relevant. It’s time to add microsites, banner ads, local search campaigns, fan pages and more to the mix.
Here’s a great quote,
AT&T in Madison, Wisconsin decided to publish a Yellow Pages only directory and offered a White Pages supplement if a homeowner was interested.
Only about 2% of the over 600,000 homeowners asked for the White Pages supplement. Here’s the full article.
The scary part is that there are still a lot of markets out there delivering White Page directories where 98% of the people couldn’t care less.
How about the Yellow Pages?
If your retailers are spending money on the Yellow Pages I wouldn’t tell them to completely walk away from that expense but I would recommend they take a good percentage of that money and transfer it to Google Local Search. We know that 80% of consumers walking into a store to make a considered purchase go online before they go into the store. I’ll bet that 80% don’t go to the Yellow Pages before going to a store.
Local advertising is changing, make sure your retailers are keeping up with the times.
Here’s another report about how important the Internet is to selling your products through a local retailer.
As a company that provides online ad builders for major brands we continually emphasis the need to expand from allowing local retailers to build and place traditional media to include digital and this study helps to make our point.
For our brands the key to digital output is allowing the retailer to customize a digital template that will act as a landing page for banner ads, email efforts, dealer locator results pages and local search to name a few. So many brands think providing dealers with banner ads or co-oping Google local search is all they need to do. The reality is that to control your brand message and to track and improve constantly means you have to control the landing page with input from the local retailer.
Once you have digital output figured out for landing pages, then everything else will fall into place and you’ll be ready for whatever comes next.
Facebook added “only” 320,800 new users in June, which is way off the 7.8 million new users they added in May. Finally, Facebook’s never ending growth is showing a little sign of weakness.
Here are a few other statistics about Facebook from an article on MarketingCharts.com
A marketer’s challenge is to decide how much effort to put into social media. We still think that the smart idea is to experiment in social media but don’t spend too much money or time just yet as no one has shown a really strong ROI and even if they did, we still have a long way to go before social approaches anything close to stable.
There are so many better, proven ways to promote your brand online that have fantastic ROIs that should be taken care of right now. My favorite example is Google Local Search. It has a better ROI than anything I’ve ever seen in local advertising yet most brands and their local retailers ignore it and continue to pour money and effort into traditional media. Keep the traditional media going but take about 25% of that money and move it to digital and primarily to local search. And, keep an eye on social.
Save your money on buying in-store kiosks and build out a mobile site instead.
First, let’s look at the trend of online research that leads to a retail sale.
Ok, this is for all products so if you’re selling anything that’s defined as a considered purchase the percentages are even higher. Most studies conclude that 80% of all consumers who walk into a dealership have already done research online.
Now comes the idea that consumers addicted to their web-enable phones will do research in the store.
Let’s add the advances in QR barcodes that could be applied to a product and act as a link to an online sell sheet for that product, including a video demonstration. See our previous blog entry.
Presto, your product can speak for itself as it sits on the sales floor.
Heck, if the consumers don’t adapt to this quickly enough certainly your retail sales team could use a little help from mobile.
While we may be a few years away from this scenario, today we know that consumers are searching online before buying in a store and that’s why Google Local is the best ROI in marketing if you’re selling through a dealer.
Once you cover that base, mobile will fall into place.