Marketing Digital Report: Search - A user-driven revolution

Search, and the technologies behind it, have utterly transformed the way we use and understand the internet as consumers, brand owners, and, of course, as marketers. True, sometimes it might feel as if the search engines are trying to shape our online existences and experiences, but in reality, it's search per se doing that.

People of all ages, from all walks of life, use search engines today with barely a second thought, happily typing (or mistyping) their search requests into the familiar box on-screen, and waiting just a second or two before setting off to find what they're looking for. It can be only a matter of time before technology and pricing models develop that let us feel equally at ease doing the same on other web-connected devices, such as mobile phones and IPTV.

Even then, we will still be scratching only the surface of search. Brand owners and advertisers are already wondering how to make sure they are found on MySpace, YouTube, Second Life and other social-networking innovations. Some believe the next big thing will be semantic search, where search engines will be able to understand and interpret the meaning and context of words in a request. There is voice-activated search, image-recognition search, even musical search; and with each additional 'flavour' comes a set of new challenges for brand owners to fashion content in a way that ensures it is found via the latest platforms.

In other words, search is here to stay. Certainly, there will be important issues to be resolved in deciding the future shape and direction of some services, in particular those concerned with personal privacy. Beyond that, the only limits on future development will be the ones imposed by human imagination, individually as well as collectively.

For all its speed and ease of use, the most compelling aspect of search (not just in the context of marketing) will continue to be its inherent sociability. Search is user-driven. It, and the advertising associated with it, 'works' only when the individual wants it to.

Traditional marketing techniques, and even most online ones, are still little more than unbidden invitations to buy, sent by advertisers to consumers who may or may not want the product or service in question. Search marketing turns that model on its head; it is the customer issuing the invitations - 'I'm looking for this, who can help me find it?'

Marketers in the UK seem to understand the latent power in this customer-driven process of matching up ready-to-buy consumers and ready-to-sell vendors, having pushed paid search's share of online adspend to nearly 60% last year, the highest proportion in the world. In turn, the success of paid search is generating renewed interest in natural search techniques to improve the performance of results.

In fact, it is hardly stretching the point to say that search, whether paid or organic, has finally given truth to the old marketing adage that the customer is king or queen. Whatever their gender, long may these monarchs of the market reign.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers