AD:Tech - Meerkats and Search

over 570,000 meerkat fans

Recent trip to AD:Tech in the UK and some interesting insights from the search providers and HitWise, the analytics company
They all focused on online retailers and the challenges they face in attracting and customers making comparisons to there high street cousins and the economic downturn which affecting them both.

With the three ( soon to be 2 ? ) search engine companies going through constant evolution in order to make their offer and effectiveness of their product both better for users and advertisers through improved search results, is this having a direct impact on the paid search market?
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All three search providers are investing time and effort of surfacing relevant information in the main search results. In the context of retail this would be location maps, product images and key information which may be buried in the site such as customer service or booking numbers .

This enriched user experience is not only for the benefit of us, Yahoo quoted as seeing as much as a 50% increase in Click through Rates and an increase of 20% in conversion using these methods.

As if to confirm this recent data from Hitwise did indeed points to a decrease in paid search across all online retailer categories with more time and effort going into SEO.

Free lunch

Consumers are now more than ever attracted to offers such as discount vouchers with the success of traditional retailers such as Pizza Express and Threshers (wine retail outline) in the UK using this method. With it’s high viral pass on rates between friends these two companies regularly make use of this tactic, in fact many price comparison sites have built a business model around this aggregating and subsequently redirecting searches from users to these offer however it was noted that many retailers are now looking to capture these users directly through smarter use of SEO rather than having to pay this referral fee to such sites.

Social network - What part do Twitter and Facebook play?

Face book this month announced they were finally cash flow positive along with recording there 300 millionth member , validating there dominant position in the social media space.

Twitters exponential growth is well documented, as is their current inability also to turn a buck.

What is interesting though about both of these players is where do users go after they have visited these sites?
  • 1 in 3 Google users ends up at a transactional based website after leaving the site – implying that there is specific intention in the search and therefore the subsequent purchase action.
  • Twitter users however have a very different exit, over 55% of its users end up at entertainment sites.
  • Social sites users in generally do not end up at online retailers after they have exited the site, with 7% of their traffic finding its way to these.

So social media websites do not work for retailers?

The trend buckers
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ASOS the exclusively online retailer of fashion goods and clothing has a quite astonishing funnel of users from social sites – with 14% of it’s traffic coming from Facebook alone ( Google comes in at 25% - which while significantly more is actually less than the usual traffic volume of between 30 – 40% from the site to online retailers) demonstrating the importance of Face-book to ASOS.
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Other brands which have managed to setup successful communities in the social space are, with their meerkat now having over ½ million Facebook friends and 28,000 followers on Twitter – applying the rationale these users will subsequently visit entertainment site ‘s could be of intrinsically beneficial to a price comparison website if leverage correctly with context of the user being reasonably inferred
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Christmas rush online

What was also interesting was online retailers busiest times in the all important build up to Christmas compared to retail outlets.
Online November and first week of December, with then a sharp decline with the opposite in retail outlets taking place.

Reasons cited were as simple as delivery / lead times affecting the level of trust consumers had in online to deliver in time for the holiday season.
Sharp rises in online activity after the Xmas period though may not translate directly to increased in online sales, rather consumers searching for discounts and the location of retail ‘ discount sales ‘.

Online and Retail
Retailers who offer both an online and retail combination could though seize on the surges and declines – with click and collect offering the convenience of online and security of being able to obtain the goods by going to the store.

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