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Your Customer Is A Search Engine

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troy janisch

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User since: 08 Jul 2002

Articles written: 17

While consumer confidence in advertising is at an all-time low, their confidence in search engines is growing. Why? Search engines offer consumers what advertising does not: relevance.

Today's consumers value relevance online and offline. A 2004 study of search engine user attitudes by IProspect indicated that nearly 80 percent of Internet users use search engines regularly and that more than half of users rely on search engines daily. The IProspect study showed that:

  • most abandon search engine results by the third page and start over
  • 23% abandon results after the first few entries
  • 19% abandon results after the first page
  • 26% abandon results after the second page, and

  • 15% abandon results after the third page

One of the most interesting finding of the IProspect study is that many users consider the paid advertising that appears with listings to be legitimate search results.

Consumers demand marketing that's based on their needs. Saturated by thousands of advertising messages a day, marketing-savvy consumers recognize and reject the overt "brand building" tactics of traditional advertising agencies in favor of relevance. As a result, marketers that attempt to build brands based on emotion, design, and charisma are more likely to undermine their efforts and underestimate consumers than they are to succeed.

Companies need to distinguish themselves from competitors by adopting and exemplifying the keywords that have meaning to potential costumers. For example, a consumer who enters "Resort" into a search engine is looking for a different experience than someone entering "Hotel." Marketers must identify the keywords that accurately reflect a company and use them as the foundation for marketing tactics aimed at well-defined demographic target markets.

This may be why Crain Communications Inc., the parent of 'Advertising Age,' acquired 'American Demographics' magazine, the nation's leading publication for analysis of consumer demographic data. American Demographics had a relatively small core of loyal subscribers. Now, demographic content will become a regular feature of 'Ad Age' and

Steve Yastrow, author of Brand Harmony, contends that the only item with a lower level of trust than advertising is a used car salesman. "A brand impression is strong if it gives the consumer a clear idea of why she wants to be involved with the product being branded."

Elliot Gluskin, managing partner of the Gluskin Townley Group, said advertisers need to take a long hard look at their products and determine how those products' benefits can match and take advantage of their customers' interests and passions. The companies that are successful will be those that can efficiently deliver their messages to consumers who want to hear them -- and avoid those of us who don't.

"Today's world runs at a frenetic pace with information-loaded messages bombarding consumers everywhere they look - media, Internet, outdoor, and every place they are - in the car, on a subway, in a public restroom," said Gluskin. "In this type of environment, the only messages allowed to get through are those that directly impact the consumer's key interests and passions."

In 2005, a company with a high awareness and a positive attitude won't get far with consumers unless they have a clear path to relevance in their consumer's mind.

A brand without relevance isn't a very strong one.

Troy Janisch is president and founder of Icon Interactive™, an industry leader helping companies integrate Internet and other Interactive media into sales channels, marketing strategies, and overall branding. He can be contacted by email at

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