Nothing’s revolutionised the marketing landscape more in recent times than the good old smartphone. But as marketers continue to realise its value it’s getting tougher to get your brand’s message heard in an increasingly noisy market.
According to research by Microsoft, consumers can be exposed to as many as 600 messages or signals a day from brand’s hunting ears, eyeballs and, ultimately, wallets and purses.
Chris Wallington (pictured above), segment lead for Microsoft’s search advertising in Australia and New Zealand, says this combination of both push and pull signals can overwhelm consumers and waste marketing budgets and search dollars.
Thankfully, Wallington says, search has fundamentally moved on from just “10 blue links on the page”.
He adds: “Information is not what it used to be. The way we think about it has changed; the information we get, the way we access it, the way we consume it and the way we search for it has changed.”
Wallington’s a committed advocate of the idea that our technology should “learn us”, it should know “here we are, who we are, what we’re thinking, even what we should be thinking,” he says.
And the technology’s already here – Cortana, Siri, Bing, Google – allowing users to speak a command and get the right response, feedback and results.
“Technology is delivering marketers the right message to the right audience at the right time. At the same time search is becoming more intelligent and predictive, gathering signals closer to consumers’ end action and intent, anticipating what they want next and being where they are no matter what device they use.”
Wallington uses the simple example of choosing to see a movie. Sure, we’re already using search for the basics (times and tickets) and complimentary experiences using suggestions such as transport options or nearby venues for dinner or drinks. But search also provides a point of validation through reviews, social media (what friends and family thought of the film), and by learning about our behaviour. Search can evaluate alternative options based on our past viewing habits and experiences.
Search as a medium now plays across the consumer decision process. “It will continue to play an active role and create efficiencies in task completion based on intent. Personal digital assistants such as Cortana will drive the search and task completion experience.
“The search experience will learn what you like, where you choose to make a purchase, understand how you prefer to pay in a given situation and what you might like to do next,” he says
The future of search is totally dependent on data because, put simply, it delivers a far better experience and the right outcomes for the consumer.
Wallington says: “Data is evolving; as it powers intelligent machine learning, which in turn, delivers increasingly better experiences. As such, privacy remains ever important to consumers.
“The ability for consumers to understand and control their privacy options allows them to make meaningful choices about how and why data is collected and used, it ensures consumers have the information they need to make the choices that are right for them.”
Ultimately, the prime advantage of search for marketers is that it makes it rather easy to forecast acquisition outcomes and to measure ROI. It’ll also make any CFO happy because it provides certainty when it comes time to approve budgets. So, yes, your customers might be receiving 600 messages a day but when you get search right, it should remain the first tool in the kit-bag of any savvy digital marketer.