Google Ignition Labs: Making Search Great Again

Google’s Ignition Labs is advising brands to direct users to ‘search’ for brand-related keywords instead of suggesting people to head to a website

The evolution of smart devices, from desktops to mobiles and now smart speakers, has changed how people use ‘search’ online. Oftentimes users end up searching for flight tickets on a ticketing platform or looking for a product they want to buy on an e-commerce site, instead of Googling. While the product discovery journey may have changed, the purchase intent is strong as ever. Google, the market leader for search, is attempting to bring users back to Googling for all they want to buy.

Google’s Ignition Labs is advising brands to direct users to ‘search’ for brand-related keywords, instead of suggesting people to head to a website.

Simply adding a search keyword suggestion at the end of a video ad has “driven 80-220% increase in brand searches vs the standard web URL,” says Guneet Singh, Head Marketing and Creative Solutions, Google India. It is the perfect blend of performance marketing with digital video.

Gopa Kumar, EVP, Isobar India, feels that with consumers using e-commerce sites and other shopping destinations to directly search for products, Google is bringing users back to the iconic Google Search bar.

“It is essentially a mnemonic. The more you repeat the idea-- in this case the Search Bar-- the more often you get them to use the option,” he added.

Singh contends that with app-based search, the consumer is not on a path to discovery, and within an app, they are just tied to a specific brand.

“However, when consumers are in an exploratory or discovery mode, they turn to Google. A Google query is a highly-involved expression of the consumer intent. For examples: Which is better, ED or LCD? What does 4K mean? Best LED TV? These queries reflect different states of a consumer’s mind and provide possibly the most well-defined opportunities to intercept, build awareness and consideration or drive transactions,” said Singh.

As people's method of discovery is evolving, “their patience and attention levels are shortening and they are engaging differently with Google for finding what they need,” said Singh. Therefore, Google is working on leading a change in consumer behaviour by optimising and designing products for smaller screens, touch, voice, conversation and the new generation of prediction through AI.

“The keyword search prompt is even more critical for today's impatient consumer, and is actually designed to help get brands higher response for their spends,” added Singh.

Search is a critical tool and is no doubt key in performance marketing, but “using a search keyword as a call to action at the end of a video is a very smart idea,” said Ankita Pande, Head of Strategy, iProspect.

The reason it is a smart idea is because users rarely click through from a video view and exit the video environment, Pande explains. Instead, giving users a specific keyword to search for later on “tends to stick,” she said.

A search keyword call to action allows a brand’s search queries to peak and allows brands to find users with strong intent. This could also be a good practice for brands that struggle to find a call to action in their video ads. “Many brands often do not know what call to action to add at the end of their video ads. This is a simple but effective solution for that,” said a digital media buyer.

Smart Search

For the last one year, Big Bazaar has been using Smart Search to convert intent to purchase. “As an offline brand, even though we have consumers searching for us online, we find it hard to close the loop,” said Pawan Sarda, Digital Head, Future Group.

BigBazar and Google Ignition Labs studied user behaviour on search and developed a business solution that met their specific needs. Big Bazaar gives exclusive offers to anyone who searches for Big Bazaar on Google during the first weekend of the month. The offers can be redeemed across its network of 225 stores throughout India.

“We saw 38-40% redemption of the coupons,” said Sarda. The Big Bazaar stores also saw over one lakh walk-ins.

Singh said that “brands across verticals are working with Google and are using Search to meet their goals -- these could be for transactions, leads, store footfalls and even consideration.” He added that Smart Search is not limited to transactions or performance. 

“Digitally savvy brands want to expand their ability to fully influence the consumers’ intent as expressed on Google. For example: If you are a toothpaste brand that helps in improving bleeding gums, should you communicate only for two seasons in a year (as you would traditionally do on TV) or go ahead and influence every person searching around the year on ‘how to take care of bleeding gums?,"  asked Singh rhetorically.

The Insight

A small change can revolutionise how brands and products are discovered and bought online.

“Replacing a web URL with a search keyword is not just innocuous but also intuitive. An ad is always placed between the consumer and content. The consumer might see or skip your ad, but won't take an action on the product till they see the content,” said Singh.

There is a higher chance of purchase if the impact leap loop is closed. The ‘impact leap’ is defined as: A consumer exposed to the brand’s ad going back to explore more about the brand. To do so, the consumer needs to remember the brand’s web URL, say,

“Remember your consumer is grappling with changing extensions, brand names with creative spellings, campaign names with innovative upper-lowercase usage or even built in punctuation like apostrophes. It takes a lot of effort for a consumer to remember this correctly and when combined with their latent fear of wasting time by either finding a wrong page or getting ‘site not found’ error - it leads to them not even starting the brand discovery process even if they are interested,” Singh explained. This is where a simple phrase-like sentence in a search bar helps.

Singh said brands who are fast on the learning curve are using the Search keyword mantra not only in digital media but also in their print, TV and OOH messages. For more updates, subscribe to exchange4media's WhatsApp Channel-

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