Search Around the World, Part III

The Search Insider racked up frequent flyer miles in the last couple weeks, and it's time to cash in. In recent editions, this column turned to search engine marketing professionals spanning Europe and Asia to discuss what about the industry excites and frustrates them. This week, we look for the threads that pull it all together. The esteemed and insightful panelists included: P. Govindan Chettiar, Enable Communications, India; David Degrelle, 1ère Position, France; Vincent Kobler, EmporioAsia, China; Mario Lupi, Ad Maiora, Italy; Jon Ostler, First Rate, New Zealand; and Eduard Pertíñez, Atraczion, Spain.

Interestingly, as the panelists shared their responses, MSN unveiled its new search engine in 25 markets and 10 languages simultaneously. MSN is trying to win over the hearts and minds of both searchers and search marketers around the world. An important lesson can be derived from this, which we'll refer to as the Search Insider MSN Corollary of International Search Engine Marketing: *Clause 1: Speak with foreign markets in their own language. *Clause 2: You'll likely find you're speaking the same language.



Let's go to the panelists' responses to see how the Corollary works.

Discussions I have with colleagues in the United States often turn to education. What do search marketers, agencies, advertisers, and consumers struggle to understand? How can we alleviate this? Who's responsible for educating these constituencies?

Some of the panelists are grappling with similar issues.

Mario from Italy writes, "Many marketers are convinced they can do search engine marketing in-house because it is too expensive, and they think it is a 'simple practice.' A lot of marketers also think that search engines are not a valid advertising and brand knowledge tool for types of products that people don't buy immediately online."

Vincent from China chimes in that one of his greatest challenges is "educating clients that search is a very important part of the marketing mix, along with interactive marketing in general."

Then there's Jon from New Zealand, who cites education as a major challenge - namely that advertisers need to understand that "online marketing, especially search, is not like print or TV."

Now go back to Clause 2 of the Corollary: We're all speaking the same language here. Jon's colleague Zac Pullen rings me every so often (usually when it's around 3 a.m. there, die-hard that he is), and when we discuss what we're working on, it seems like he's based next door, not tens of thousands of miles away.

Yet keep in mind Clause 1: "Speak with foreign markets in their own language." Consider the perspectives on search engines from Spain, France, and India.

Eduard from Spain laments, "There is no important local search engine anymore in Spain." It's sadly poetic, reminiscent of Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" ("And I'll never forget the grim look on his face / when he heisted himself and took leave of this place, / through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace.")

In France, David says it's a similar situation. "U.S.-based search engines have historically quickly overpowered French search engines."

Yet P. Govindan in India presents a much different image. While he notes that U.S. giants are the top search engines there, he says, "Regional search engines are now becoming a trend since people like to see search results in their local languages." He later adds, "Regional-language search engines are the best" at meeting needs of Internet users.

Sure, resources like Hitwise can provide search engine traffic data in a number of countries. It's helpful to analyze as much of this data as possible when trying to understand global markets. However, data's only as useful as the analysis behind it.

David further stresses the need to pay heed to Clause 1: "Speaking for Europe, we are 25 countries, but really different communities, cultures, concepts, and expressions that would only be meaningful for a specific group of people."

Put the tray tables up; the Insider will go back to reporting locally for now. Thanks, in large part, to your recommendations; it won't be the last trip.

Happy travels.

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