Commentary

Trusting The Brand Through Search

Sneaky-Guy

Trust continues to impact search engine marketing campaigns. There has been a lot of talk lately by analysts and experts around using paid search as a branding channel. How can marketers convince consumers to trust the paid search ad appearing alongside or above organic listings enough to click on them?

Tucked away in a report--The Interactive Brand Ecosystem--released Thursday from Forrester Research on brand marketing, marketers will find info suggesting trust remains an issue when trying to connect with consumers who see the paid search ads.

When 3,975 U.S. online adults were asked how much do you trust the following sources of information, only 12% said ads in search engines. A company's Web site came in at 30% as the No. 1 trusted source, followed by a brand's Web site at 27%, and ads in newspapers at 22%.

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The report makes a point to explain how most interactive marketers don't think of search as a branding channel, though search marketers realize both organic and paid mediums plays a vital rode. When consumers see a print ad for an idea or hear about it on Twitter, search engines such as Bing and Google are the first place they go to seek more information. Search marketers know to optimize Web sites to ensure it serves up in organic listings, and if it doesn't, they know paid search will do the trick.

Trust must not only come from paid search listings, but organic as well. Build the relationship to brand the company, product or service. It's no secret the majority of people online trust recommendations from friends, a concept that led to the integration and influence of social media in search engine rankings.

Search, the catalyst for consumers to find a business's Web site, typically leads more than 60% of searchers to Web sites from search engines, which often prefer to pick up and index owned media and social media, according to Forrester. The report provides this example: "For all the talk about Coke's 24 million Facebook fans, if you use Google to find the brand online, coca-cola.com is the top result and the MyCokeRewards microsite is sixth; the company's Facebook page isn't in the first page of Google results."

In a Forrester report published in February to determine how consumers find Web sites these days, compared with in previous years, the research firm surveyed more than 4,000 consumers. The results found learned that organic search results are among the most trusted information resources, as 57% of consumers between the ages of 12 and 17, and 39% of adult ages 18 and older admit to trusting search engine results. In fact, more consumers trust natural search results than TV, company email updates, and social network profiles.

Still, if marketers, other than those focusing on search, can remember the majority of consumers start their quest for information through engines such as Bing, Google and Yahoo, the world would become a better place. I'm just not sure if a signal like this one, Yahoo's intension to change log file retention data policy from three to 18 months to better support consumer, does the cause justice. But that's another story for another day.

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