Internet Search: Size Doesn't Matter, Cool Factor Does

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Includes: AABA, GOOG, MSFT, WMT
by: Andy Beal

Previous blind-test studies have shown that results across different search engines are pretty much considered equal–once you remove the logo from such results.

Now, a new study from Wunderman, BrandAsset® Consulting, ZAAZ and Compete goes one step further and demonstrates how the search engine used, influences the perception of the destination brand. In other words, Walmart’s (NYSE:WMT) brand is perceived differently, depending on whether the visitor arrived at its site via Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing or Yahoo (YHOO).

The study summarizes two distinct reasons why this happens:

Bing users, for example, tend to be mostly from the tip of the adoption curve (innovators and early adopters) where Yahoo! and Google’s passengers tend to be middle majority [and] each search engine demonstrated different degrees of consumer engagement ranging from visiting to finally purchasing.

Interestingly, if you use Bing, you are an early adopter. Who knew that using a Microsoft product made you one of the cool kids!

The study shares a few examples of how the search engine used, affects the type of interaction with the brand.

So, while Walmart tends to benefit the most from Bing users:

Hotwire, gets better conversions from Google:

So, how does this data help you? Well Shane Atchison of ZAAZ suggests

This research demonstrates that marketers have a real choice to make when formulating search strategies.

Oh if it were only that easy! First, you have to work to get the actual rankings and you also have to consider the search volume of each search engine. Place all your SEO efforts in Bing and you could starve to death!

Still, for those that handle the PPC accounts for big-name brands, it’s worth taking a look at the study to see if you can spot any opportunities for your campaign.