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SES: It’s Not Persuasion; It’s Presence

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Our trusty Doug Caverly woke up this morning on California time and hoofed down to the Search Behavior Research track at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. After grooving a little too much to the Radiohead intro, Doug relays insight from Yahoo’s Anne Frisbie.

Frisbie, Senior Director of Category at Yahoo Search Marketing, wove a tale of “the new consumer paradigm,” outlining the idea that search mirrors the word-of-mouth functions of friends and family.

It’s not so much that searchers will change their minds after clicking a link and reading about a product or service, but that if they see enough links throughout their research, they begin to see that in an “everybody’s talking about it” kind of way.

In fact, according to Yahoo’s research, searchers are less likely than non-searchers to change their mind at all. What Frisbie called “an astounding difference” was that 63 percent of searchers could not be influenced while shopping online, compared to 40 percent of non-searchers.

Message internalization can occur from simple text-only ads that repeatedly occur during the research process. That means the branding has sunk in, and searchers will be forming opinions as they go, taking in a flurry of information sources. Once at the point of purchase, however, that internalization will outweigh any last minute influence.

“Search advertising can change consumer behavior and increase the amount of time that they spend with your brand,” said Frisbie.

The PowerPoint presentation reads, “They’re knowledge seekers, not bargain hunters,” as Caverly begins pouting that they’ve turned off Radiohead.

“Searchers seem to really enjoy shopping,” said Frisbie, “and are more willing to look at store location and address information.”

What’s the moral of the story? Caverly and session host Greg Sterling like mediocre British agenda-based scratchy alternative rock and searchers have made up their minds by the time they’re ready to buy. But your business needs to have been there all along the way.

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SES: It’s Not Persuasion; It’s Presence
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