The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was almost 3 months ago, but its effects are still resonating for advertisers. For search marketers in particular, this year's CES was a clarion call for a new search imperative: one that extends beyond the PC.
Held every January in Las Vegas, CES showcases cutting-edge technology and gadgets that will be touted during the coming year. Attendance was the highest it had been in the past 3 years, reaching over 140k attendees. As new technologies and accompanying mediums are adopted, advertisers will have to find new and different ways of reaching their target audiences. For search marketers, that means adjusting and expanding their standard PC-centered strategies to account for these emerging mediums.
Smartphones are the most immediate area of opportunity for search marketers. Over the past couple of years, data has revealed the increased usage of mobile phones and mobile searches in general. Today, advertisers are using mobile search as a major driver in traffic and conversions, whether they be sign-ups, subscriptions, activations or even sales of high-priced items like computers and TVs. Despite these results, many companies are still hesitant to invest in mobile search; however, recent advancements in mobile phone capabilities may turn the tide. As one major example at CES, Motorola unveiled its newest phone, the Atrix, which can dock to and fully power a "webtop", a small, super-thin laptop that has full web-browsing capabilities. With the proliferation and growing sophistication of mobile phone development an undeniable trend, search marketers, who have not bought into mobile search, need to pull their heads out of the sand now or they are in danger of being washed away.
Another quickly growing opportunity for search marketers revolves around the tablet space. At CES, nearly every major electronics manufacturer had its own tablet to introduce. With shipments said to be around 45 million this year, tablets are the hottest area of opportunity in 2011. Currently, Google and Bing cannot differentiate between tablets and smartphones (Google can target the iPad only). While refinements in targeting may be in the works on both sides, search marketers should be wary of the landing pages they use. For instance, advertisers who have robust mobile strategies may want to think twice about using a mobile specific page, which may be simpler than a standard laptop/desktop page. A richer experience, like that with a laptop/desktop page, may be better suited for tablets. Until this targeting is adjusted by the engines, search marketers should re-consider landing page strategies for mobile search as tablet usage continues to grow. This and other elements, such as keyword length and text ad relevance to device, should be considered with tablets.
Finally, Internet connectivity with TV is another developing opportunity to consider for the future. At CES, TVs with built-in applications like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and Facebook were displayed as the new standard. As other major players like Google and Yahoo make a larger footprint in this space, TVs may be used to access the Internet more often, including searching. Although it's still a nascent area, it's not too early for search marketers to start thinking of the nuances associated with search on a TV.
This year's CES emphasized how PCs are no longer the only major avenue for paid search. Search marketers need to think of the overall search experience of seeing their text ads for a particular keyword and landing on their destination pages, whether on a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or TV. The consumer mentality and behavior on each may be slightly different right now, but are also constantly evolving. A paid search strategy needs to be organic and constantly tested and reevaluated to account for the effects of developing consumer technology.
Brian Nadres is Search Director at MediaCom Interaction. He can be reached at
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