15 Minutes Ahead: Beyond Search 1.0
A host of emerging trends are driving the evolution of search. Advances in semantic technologies, increasing access to broadband, shifting digital consumption patterns and the emerging ubiquity of mobile are several critical forces. But the biggest change to the current search climate just may be about what you’re searching for.
The first era of search was mostly about finding stuff — whether it was information, products, services or instructions.
But now when you search, you’re oftentimes looking for things that go beyond products or stored content. You’re looking for people, shared experiences, real-time updates from the here and now.
As a marketer, this subtle but crucial shift is something you need to take part in, driving instead of merely following. Here are some thoughts on how you can do just that.
Searching for people
What’s the most powerful thing you like about LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace? Finding people.
If you’re in the business of recruiting or matchmaking, you’ve known about this for some time. But if you’re marketing insurance, beauty products, music and movies, or pharmaceuticals, you’re probably starting to wonder whether this type of social search behavior might have some room in the frame for a subtle but appropriate placement of your brand, product or service.
Searching for experience
YouTube, according to comScore’s March search engine rankings, edged out Yahoo Search Marketing for the overall No. 2 spot in search. This means more people search through video content on YouTube than search for everything else on Yahoo. What do you suppose they’re looking for? Experience, entertainment, community, connection. And when they find it, they share it.
YouTube was the frontier of what's now referred to as “social search,” though you can argue it’s neither a social network nor a search engine, per se. But if you’re not integrating the YouTubes of the emerging Web into your digital communications strategies, you’re missing a huge opportunity to capture relevant attention for your brand.
There are numerous ways to access these audiences, including creating a channel for your own videos and asking consumers to upload theirs. You also can distribute your video content, such as commercials, product demos, podcasts or viral mashups. YouTube also lets marketers buy very well-targeted inventory in and around the site.
Searching for the here and now
Twitter, through its Twitter search function (search.twitter.com), is the emerging search engine of the here and now.
Want to know which store in Manhattan has the shortest lines for the next iPhone? Simply tweet that from your laptop or mobile phone and in the same time it takes Google to build you a search page, the Twitter community likely will tell you exactly which store to head toward.
The next time you’re planning an out-of-home campaign, a viral mobile tactic, or seeding blogs and forums with branded messages, think about including a simple message in all your collateral: Type “#MY AWESOME PRODUCT” into the Twitter search box, and see what happens.
So, when you’re thinking about how to get more creatively competitive when it comes to search marketing, don’t forget to ask yourself: What are your prospective customers looking for, and which of these new, emerging flavors of search will do the job to ensure that you can be found?
Thom Kennon is vice president and account director at Wunderman, a New York-based marketing services firm. Wunderman, part of Young & Rubicam Brands, is a member of WPP. Reach Thom at firstname.lastname@example.org.