Marketing industry still undervaluing search (yes, even now!)

IAB Search for Integration

First, some facts: over 35.5 million people in the UK use search each month (UKOM) and advertisers spend over £2.3 billion on paid search in the UK every year (IAB / PwC). Search is gargantuan for brands and consumers alike.

Yet over two thirds of UK brands, 70.4%, state search is only partially integrated or not at all integrated within their wider marketing mix (IAB). When pushed further, an incredible 99% of brands in the UK say there is still greater opportunity to integrate search with the likes of TV, radio, print and even online ads.

There is a fundamental flaw in the way we as a marketing industry use search: we don’t understand its true role in an integrated marketing mix.

The integration opportunity

When the IAB Search Council learnt the above we were genuinely alarmed, and we set out on a search for the answer to advertisers’ calls for information about integration. After nine months of interviews, reading reports and studying research from around the world, I’ve finished writing the IAB’s latest report: the Search for Integration.

The Search for Integration is enticingly bursting with opportunity to use search better, and to make the entire marketing mix more effective and cost efficient. For instance, an econometric study by Mindshare, saw one client’s sales go up by 45% alongside an increased search budget of 55%, while CPA reduced by 38% and the halo effect improved by 26%.

The report doesn’t stop there, it shows how search can significantly multiply the brand effectiveness of all media in the mix. Another an econometric study highlighted in the report by Mercedes-Benz found search queries and paid search doubled the effectiveness of all the car company’s other media.

Herba Brilliance discovered that search doubled the purchase consideration for all media combinations in one campaign. Research by iProspect in 2010 found that, for respondents, paid search, natural search and online display advertising in combination created a combined uplift of 13% for likelihood to purchase.

And this is all before we start talking about offline sales made as a result of online research, the so called ROPO effect (research online, purchase offline). The report highlights up to 40% of offline buyers have conducted online research prior to purchase and it’s possible to see ROPO offline sales that are over 30% higher than for consumers who didn’t research online before purchase (GfK and Google 2010).

Understand, research, experiment… integrate!

Having gone through the process of creating this report – an arduous but rewarding task I can assure you – I’m confident in our recommendation that all marketers from all disciplines must re-evaluate the use of search in the integrated mix and then re-educate staff about its role.

As a starting point I really would recommend at least skimming the Search for Integration report. It collates all currently available research and case studies with evidence from the likes of adidas, Sony, bmibaby, British Red Cross, Body Shop, Microsoft, Google, Weight Watchers, O2, MI5, RAC, Mindshare, Havas, Kuoni and many more. It then offers the tools and techniques to assess search integration for yourself.

IAB members can download the report on our website or, if you’re a brand, please feel free to email me for a free printed copy.

Follow me or the IAB on Twitter.