From insights to intent: Why Search is more valuable than ever in Australia

Nick Love June 2019 Search

Google’s mission has always been to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. With trust, transparency, and user control as our guiding principles, the Google Ads team has that exact same goal. Here, Nick Love, head of performance at Google, explains how Search can help marketers be there, be useful, and be responsible as consumer expectations and technology continue to evolve.

In 2000, we introduced Search ads to the world with a simple offer: “See your ad here.” The format revolutionised the way businesses serve ads to consumers and gave them the ability to compete on a global stage for the first time. The ads were successful because they were based on what users were searching for.

For years, we’ve used our understanding of intent to deliver rich, insightful Search results to consumers. But consumer expectations are changing. Today, Australia’s mobile-first consumers expect brands to not only meet their needs but anticipate them throughout their purchase journeys.

As the concept of intent continues to evolve, so do the technology and solutions available to brands and advertisers. With Search, marketers have a multi-dimensional platform to meet and engage consumers in any context, at scale, in a privacy-safe way that respects users and provides trust, transparency, and control. To understand how today’s Aussie consumers use Search, we partnered with MtM to conduct a study where participants refrained from using Search for two weeks.1 The results reveal the important role Search plays in Aussies’ lives — and offer insights on how it can help brands be there, be useful, and be responsible in their marketing efforts.

Be there: Meet intent in any context

Search is timely
Let’s take a look at how Hamza, a 37 year old from New South Wales, used Search when his pool vacuum plate broke and he needed to fix it. Hamza started his journey browsing websites and watching videos about how to remove a stuck vacuum plate. He then used Search to order a new part online. From the moment Hamza began researching how to fix his pool vacuum to the moment he purchased the part, brands were given multiple opportunities to support him and ultimately earn his consideration by being present on Search.

MtM/Google, AU Deprivation Study, Jan. 2019.

As Search moves into the future, we continue to find new ways to help users. In order to do that, we need to also consider the context in which Aussies are conducting their searches — all the while keeping user transparency and control at the heart of how search works. In Australia, smartphones are now the primary means of accessing the internet, with 89% of Aussies owning a smartphone, compared with 76% who own a laptop and 52% who own a desktop.2 That means there are more opportunities than ever to be there for Aussies as they pull out their smartphones to browse and research throughout the day.

Be useful: Engage intent with useful formats

Search is creative
It’s not enough for brands to be there for consumers on their purchase journeys — they also have to find creative ways to be useful for them in their moments of need. Today’s consumers expect ads to be personalised, helpful, and relevant, so the first step to creating an engaging ad is determining the right format. Search ads have come a long way from a headline, two descriptions, and a display URL. That’s because ads with more components often deliver greater results: 77% of consumers agree that images and visuals are important when searching and shopping online.3

MtM/Google, AU Deprivation Study, Jan. 2019.

When Scott, a 43 year old from South Australia, participated in the deprivation study, he was in the market for a car and wanted to search for car features and browse specs. If Scott had been able to use Search and had his personalised ad settings turned on, car brands with a robust Search strategy would have been able to help with ads that showcased car features or highlighted specific specs. By serving Scott useful creative based on his search behaviour, these brands would be more likely to influence his purchase decision.

In the instances where text isn’t enough, we’re working to innovate and deliver more engaging experiences. For example, with new formats like responsive search ads, brands can enable Search to provide the best possible response when a consumer starts typing a question in the search box.

Be responsible: Meet and engage intent at scale

Search is intelligent
Whether they’re browsing on desktops at home or researching on smartphones on the go, today’s consumers move seamlessly between channels and platforms. Consumer journeys are only going to get more complex moving forward, making it harder for brands to successfully scale and be there for consumers in the moments they’re searching.

Effectively reaching consumers is "no longer a measurement problem, it’s a taking action problem."

The bottom line is this: the landscape is changing fast, and brands that aren’t willing to be nimble and adapt will be left behind by those that do. By taking advantage of new technology, savvy marketers can better understand consumer intent and turn engagement into insights. Leading marketers are no longer measuring engagement and optimising their campaigns after the fact; they’re using real-time insights to meet and even predict the needs of their core audiences. To quote Peter Fader, a Wharton marketing professor and customer lifetime value master, effectively reaching consumers is “no longer a measurement problem, it’s a taking action problem.” So let’s take action together.

Better together: combining media to reach the right Aussie audiences