Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is Your Search Engine A Newspaper?

I was chatting with a friend here who works for a major media conglomerate and is getting her PhD in media economics. (Yes, she can multi-task.) She is working on a paper about online advertising. Her employer, the owner of several national papers and publications, is the biggest online advertiser in Turkey. She said she was surprised to find how in the US the top advertising revenue congregated around search engines and portals such as Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN... This made me think for a minute about how I got my news on a daily basis. To me, information is key. I track multiple sources at a time. I keep an eye on Yahoo news. I go through my blog lists on a regular basis. I read the NYT and WSJ - online and offline. The latest news is the greatest. Within all this commotion, I sometimes pay attention to online banner ads and pop-ups.

Advertisers get the biggest return from me when I search for a specific product or service. That's when I am ready to click around and chase additional information. Hence, the beauty of search engine marketing. Paid or organic, it reaches a relevant, engaged audience. My search engine is my default newspaper and directory.

Our conversation took another interesting turn, when another friend who oversees a number of brands for an international cosmetics company's Turkish branch said she is planning to cut back on her Web advertising in 2009. She complained that she was not getting enough ROI. Instead, she planned to focus on TV. Her budget was scaled back anyhow.

A new dish came to the table, we all got distracted with mozzeralla sticks and pizzas. So I didn't get into finding new audiences online with a list of sites that matched her audience's profile. I didn't get a chance to tell her about the brands who were moving money from traditional media to online, either.

The Turkish online audience is addicted to social networks and discussion forums. Turkey is one of Facebook's most populated bases in Europe. Similar to US Internet users, novice and seasoned users depend on major search engines to find information. Perhaps the solution for brands here is to move away from somewhat engaging banner ads and follow the audience to search engines and social networks.

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