As a consumer, how often do you use search engines for finding the right product?
Imagine you are looking to buy a new smartphone. You enter “smartphone” in the search box. Next, you see all the latest smartphone ads on top mobile websites and you start to compare and perhaps end up making your decision in just a few clicks.
Image by pichado photography, Flickr CC
If nothing else, your purchasing decision is mainly governed by what you click and what you read on search results and that’s basically how search engine marketing dominates a consumer’s decision making.
Worst still, search engine marketing and online advertising are so closely connected and what you see on your search is exactly what the seller/advertiser is paying for “to rank high on search results.” I don’t want to get into a messy discussion on what all the online marketers do to rank high on search engines (say, Google). But the fact is in this digital age, “search” gets too much credit, and “displayed results” on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) plays an important role in brand recognition and sales.
In a recent research published by GroupM Search, titled “The Virtuous Circle – The Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway,” more than 86% of consumers agreed that “search” was an integral part of their purchase pathway. In another research study, it was found that online reviews – user reviews and product reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of purchase decisions of most consumers today.
While I wonder how fair it is to follow social media and read search engine results to make up my mind on a particular product, I somehow feel my purchasing decision is largely standing on the shoulders of search engine giants who are playing with the popular mentality of consumers and striving to appear in front of our faces!
We all know the drill – put the right ad in front of the right user at the right time but the question is – is it really the right way?