Two Reports To Get Search Marketers Closer To The Summit

Co-authored with Christian Splaine, Research Associate on Forrester's B2C Marketing Team

Earlier in the year, we came out with our State Of Search Marketing, 2017 report. The takeaway? Search marketing is only getting more complex and harder to navigate. And so far that has played out to be true. In fact, we here at Forrester have received an increasing number of questions this year on how to traverse the tricky terrain that is search. So, we have donned our mountaineering hats and written two new reports aiming to help search marketers navigate to the top of the search marketing summit.

The first report maps out the current relationship (or lack thereof) between search and social. Inadvertently, search marketers have become isolated from social intelligence insights that the rest of their enterprises are benefitting from. The benefits of connecting social listening data with search can range from better keyword targeting to improved campaign timing. The key to using search and social insights in tadem is collaboration between the two teams, which marketers can foster by:

·         Analyzing search and social insights together. For those marketers that are reliant on agencies, understand that they have both a search and social practice as part of their offerings. Ensure that their search and social teams are working together and sharing insights, so that you can reap the rewards.

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Highlights From Google Marketing Next 2017

I, along with Susan Bidel and Richard Joyce, got to attend Google Marketing Next 2017 this week. It was a great opportunity to see firsthand the new advances Google is making for this year, and to speak with Google product managers directly. While there were no announcements that were earth shattering, there were a few important announcements that I thought I’d share with those of you that were unable to attend:

 

  • AMP ads for search and display. Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) over a year ago to speed up mobile web pages to aid the customer experience. Now these pages can be used by search advertisers in AdWords to speed up the time it takes for their landing pages from paid search ads to download. And the same is being done for Google Display Network ads.
  • Store sales measurement. Google has already been using anonymized location data to estimate in store visits from digital ads. But now, Google will be applying machine learning to better account for brick and mortar visits. And marketers will now be able to integrate POS data into AdWords to understand in store conversions better.
  • In-market audiences for search ads. Search advertisers will be able to better target searchers who are further along in the customer life cycle to making a purchase for their products or services. In AdWords, marketers can choose audiences based on categories like event tickets, apparel, or beauty products to target customers that Google has deemed as in-market. Google uses intent signals like searching behavior and website visits to determine if a customer is in market for a product.

What did you think was the biggest announcement from GMN? I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions.

Google's biggest threat? Amazon.

If you've been following Forrester's search marketing research over the past few years, you'd know that we talk a lot about search marketing evolving to a broader discovery marketing strategy. As a refresher: a discovery marketer creates programs that help users find your brand in their preferred medium and during their moment of need. Some marketers, especially retailers, have begun to take on this new and challenging charter and are looking to new channels and websites to increase their discoverability.

Enter: Amazon, Google's newest, and biggest, rival in the search marketing space. We set out to determine two things about Amazon search marketing: what factors do they take into consideration when ranking products and what type of ads are available for brands on Amazon? The research report just went live today and you can read our findings here.

To summarize what we found in the research:

Amazon search moves customers along the customer life cycle. Google has long dominated the discover stage of the the customer life cycle. But Amazon is playing an increasingly large role in how customers find products. In fact, according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics data, 31% of US online adults who made a purchase in the past three months started their shopping research on Amazon. And it doesn't end there. Amazon is also a place for customers to research product choices and even transact.

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Kicking Off 2017 With A State Of The Union

Just like a US President gives Congress information on the "state of our union", Forrester has just released a state of the union on the search marketing world. But instead of constant interruptions for applause or the opposition's response to the state of the union, let's cut to the chase.

The state of search marketing is strong. But there are cracks forming in its foundation. That's not to say that search marketing is under immediate seige from foreign adversaries, but it is to say that there will be challenges and opportunities for agencies, vendors, and marketers that are tasked with owning SEO and/or paid search.

Change is nothing new in the search world -- especially when you consider how often Google updates it's ranking algorithm. And 2016 was no different. There were a few major highlights in my eyes:

  • Google nixed right-hand rail ads. Back in February, Google confirmed that all ads (except PLAs and some knowledge graph ads) would no longer appear on the right hand side of desktop search results. The reason Google did this was to provide a more consistent experience across devices, which it did. The good news for marketers though? The decrease in total inventory didn't increase CPCs. In fact, CPCs on Google declined 5% since Q3 2015.
  • Organic search is still top of mind for marketers...and customers. Let's face it: SEO is not the sexiest digital marketing topic. But it works: according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics data, natural search engine results are the top way customers find websites. So it should be no surprise that my top inquiry topic in 2016 was on all things SEO.
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