Is search overhyped?

Today I appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch along with Marissa Mayer of Google to discuss trends in online search as retailers ramp up for the holiday season. One of the key points I wanted to convey is that search is overhyped. What do I mean by that? Search gets credited with driving sales for more than it actually does. This occurs because search is relatively easy to buy and measure. However, search reflects the intent of the consumer, meaning that OTHER channels have helped influence that intent BEFORE the consumer uses Google, or any other search engine for that matter. Retailers have discovered that social media and mobile can be an effective way to have a dialogue and interaction with consumers that influences the intent behind an Internet search. For example:

  • 83% of major brands have a Facebook page (see Sears and Gap) and many are using Facebook pages to communicate current and upcoming holiday specials.
  • For the first time, brands are using Twitter to disseminate coupons and communicate specials (see Sephora and Toys RUs). Twitter wasn’t on any retailer’s radar screen 12 months ago.
  • Brands are using iPhone applications to facilitate easier mobile shopping and gift finding (Walmart and Target are good examples).

As Omniture helps customers better understand how social media, mobile, video and other channels are affecting the purchase cycle, our customers are doing a better job of allocating their marketing budgets and resources. In other words, they are doing a lot more to drive conversion and sales than just giving money to Google.

Which brings me to a topic we didn’t have time to discuss on today’s segment: the game is changing. If you look at online marketing in terms of “innings,” we are currently in the top of the third inning. The first inning was dominated by Yahoo! The second inning went to Google. And while Google will be important in the third inning, I don’t believe it will be dominated by a single vendor. I think this third inning will field multiple significant players, including Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone and, of course, Adobe.

Katie Juran

Katie Juran is director of Corporate Reputation at Adobe, leading Adobe’s efforts to amplify Adobe’s voice through content, digital and influencer strategies. The Corporate Reputation organization includes employee communications, thought leadership research, content strategies and other programs to build Adobe’s reputation in the marketplace. Prior to building the Corporate Reputation function, she founded and built Adobe’s Executive Communications team and also served in Corporate Public Relations. Juran began her career with the U.S. Department of State before moving into a 20-year corporate communications career, with tenures at agency Cunningham Communication, computing giant Hewlett-Packard and wireless startup ArrayComm prior to Adobe. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University.

Katie Juran