New comScore study "Search Marketing Vital for Brand Building and Driving Offline Sales..."

Isn't it funny how studies released by companies usually support the business plans of those companies? I mean have you ever seen a news article from a company stating that a study they had sponsored turned out to discredit one of their most popular products? Just imagine "Tonkoyta Motors has announced that a startling new study about hybrid cars shows that they actually consume more gasoline than regular cars and actually produce more hydrocarbons.." Call me a cynic, but I'm guessing studies with those types of results never see the light of day. Well, thanks to Gord Hotchkiss and his post about "Search And the Digital CPG Shelf" from Media Post's Search Insider Blog, we've got a new study to dissect.

Search Marketing Vital for Brand Building and Driving Offline Sales...

So, take this with a little grain of salt, but a new study conducted by comScore, Inc. in partnership with Procter & Gamble, Yahoo!, and the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, has shown that: "Search Marketing Vital for Brand Building and Driving Offline Sales for Consumer Packaged Goods Companies". At least one of the participants in the study, Procter & Gamble, doesn't really care which way the study turned out, they were obviously just looking to determine how to spend future advertising investments. Well, unless there is a group within P&G that handles search engine marketing and is hoping to get a bump in their budget......nah, I'm sure that's not the case.

I find this study interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that even in the United States, where search engine marketing is driving Google's stock price ever upward, there still exists resistance and a lack of progress in accepting search engine marketing. And second, it provides excellent analysis and advice for local advertising professionals and companies to see the value of search engine advertising. I'll briefly explore both of these points

Search Engine Marketing...Still in its infancy

Real quick! Let's not forget that search engine marketing, as an alternative for the advertiser, has only been around for about a decade. And the dominant search engine marketing platform, Google, has only been available for 5 years. If you also consider that the Internet has only been available publicly and for commercial use since 1994, I think that it is easy to conclude that Internet advertising has a long ways to grow. Finally, you may not be ready to hear this, but before too long, the Internet will become the dominant media device. According to a recent survey by IBM, "personal Internet time rivals TV time." However, even though time in front of a monitor instead of a television is roughly the same, the amount of advertising purchased on the two differ drastically, with the Internet lagging behind television by more than $13.2 billion. By the way, I'll be digging into this issue, very soon. Warning: the forecast indicates a category 5 hurricane of change approaching the advertising industry!

Imagine that!

Of course, I'm not ashamed to agree with Gordy's overall assessment of the study, you see that is the luxury of us study opportunists; when the conclusion fits our agenda, well, we want to make sure you know what the "experts" have to say. According to Gordy:

"In fact, I have yet to see a study done on any product category where search didn’t blow the doors off the competition in its effectiveness in connecting with customers. So perhaps the biggest question left unanswered by the study is this: Why are all those branding dollars still going everywhere but search?"
Yes indeed, why are all those advertising dollars going to less effective methods?

Here are some of my favorite conclusions from the study:
  • “Our deeper understanding of the motivations around search behavior underscores the opportunity to leverage search for more than just direct response marketing,” said Randy Peterson, Search Innovation Manager from Procter & Gamble. “Search may be one of the most effective means of reaching qualified consumers when and where they are most receptive to learning about our brands. Ultimately this drives offline sales.” Well there you have it, straight from the Search Innovation Manager from Procter & Gamble, you see how indifferent P&G is in the study....erggh, wait a minute!
  • Search appears to represent a significant marketing opportunity for CPG brands. The study found that a majority of U.S. consumers visited Web sites for CPG product categories during the three months ending April 2007, with search driving a significant percentage of visitors in all the categories.
  • The study also found that a substantial percentage of the visitors to category Web sites arrived as a result of a search query. Among visitors to baby products sites, 60 percent arrived via search, followed by 47 percent in food products, 27 percent in personal care products, and 23 percent in household products.