by Debra Wang and Vladimir Bradic, 26 Jan 2018
In a world of digital giants, it seems impossible that anyone could topple behemoths like Google and Microsoft. But in the words of Jurassic Park, “Life expands to new territories…life (always) finds a way.” Lately, it seems some new players are taking that to heart and jockeying for a seat at the top.
Here are three advertising search engines that are doing just that. While they may not be on your PPC marketing plan, you may want to consider them, because they’re not going extinct anytime soon.
It’s no secret that Amazon has terrorized the retail and literary world for years with its mere existence. Its ability to tackle and disrupt any industry was back on display last year, as it sent shockwaves through Wall Street and sent grocery stores scrambling when it picked up Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion.
At its core, the fuel to Amazon’s success is its Prime membership option. Prime members are not only growing in numbers, but cementing purchase behavior that starts and ends without ever leaving the Amazon ecosystem.
There are 182 million self-reported Active Prime Users in the U.S. who made a confirmed purchase in the past 12 months, with an additional 4 million subscribers signing up just this past holiday season.
92% of users who start their journey on Amazon will end up purchasing on Amazon; studies have also shown Prime members spend more with every subsequent year and are less likely to shop anywhere else vs. non-Prime users.
To state it clearly, ignoring Amazon would be ignoring a large swath of customers and revenue.
Due to Amazon’s unique nature and structure, advertisers that want to link up with it will quickly find several notable differences. The two biggest differences are that, first, Amazon requires all paid media advertisers to be Amazon vendors (with a 2-4 week waitlist to become a vendor). Second, and perhaps most important, Amazon is an ecosystem that lives and dies off of good reviews…a LOT of good reviews. These criteria can be time-consuming to achieve.
Here are some other differences to contend with after you’re in with Amazon versus other search engine marketing platforms:
As Amazon continues to refine its advertising capabilities, advertisers need to follow wherever consumers are shopping, which ultimately could drive a larger hole in Google and Bing’s wallet.
Where Amazon is formidable, Pinterest is visually beautiful and impactful. Never before has one channel been the inspiration (and motivation) to move, act and, ultimately, purchase.
Industry critics were skeptical about Pinterest’s ability to monetize their user base, but since its paid search launch in late 2017, it’s proven to have true advertising, and staying, power. An eMarketer study supports Pinterest’s claim that visuals are key, saying 75% of U.S. internet searchers look for visuals before making a purchase.
Pinners are a fanatical and engaged lot, contributing to over 2 billion monthly searchers. 93% of Pinners use it to plan for things they want to buy and start shopping on Pinterest for up to two months before using other platforms.
Pinterest is the perfect ecosystem for advertisers to find consumers that are still open to suggestions and highlight which non-brand keywords have the highest potential to carry over into their other keyword-driven media channels. 87% of Pinners purchase because of Pinterest; 97% of searches are non-brand; and only 69% of brands purchased were a part of the initial consideration set.
These are consumers who are willing to invest the time to research and root out the obscure but perfect solution to their searches, long ahead of the intended purchase date.
Advertising options on Pinterest are more robust than Amazon’s, as they have looked to find seamless ways to integrate paid advertising and sponsorships without disrupting the current user experience; however, both a product SKU minimum and a monthly spend minimum are required to advertise.
Ad formats on Pinterest are more varied, too, with Promoted Pins, Google Shopping feed integrations and even promoted videos targeted through a wide range of audience segmentation, such as Location, Demographics, Device, Keyword, Interests, Look-A-Likes, Customer List and Remarketing.
Performances from these early Pinterest adopters are music to digital marketers’ ears. Studies are not only showing that these sponsored ad placements are driving positive ROAS, but also as much as a 30% lift in incremental sales versus the next best performing channel. They also show users exposed to Pins had a larger shopping cart purchase versus purchases not exposed to Pins and that 70% of incremental sales were generated from new customers.
As Pinners are used to investing the time to find the “Pinterest perfect” item, advertisers should take a hard look and see if Pinterest would be perfect for their PPC media plans, too.
According to Alexa, YouTube is the second most visited site not only in the U.S., but worldwide, and is the second largest search engine on the web. With more than 1 billion users, YouTube is available in 70+ countries and 60+ languages. Given its geographical reach and pure volume, it’s surprising that YouTube is sometimes an afterthought in a PPC marketing campaign instead of an active part of every consideration set.
While one of the most obvious barriers to YouTube is the need for video content, YouTube is and has been evolving to offer marketers better capabilities to match the right message to the desired action. These various implementations can be seen in its key features for targeting, video ad formats and measurement options:
As Google continues to explore ways to capitalize on all the data and learnings captured across all of their different arms (ie Gmail, Google, Youtube, Maps etc…), we expect even more advanced audience targeting to be released in the near future.
Similar to Amazon and Pinterest, YouTube has the audience size combined with the ability to target customers in a visually engaging format while also measuring each step of a customer’s journey. As these digital giants continue to try gaining and maintaining their edge over the others, existing partnerships are changing in an attempt to force users to stay within one platform/universe. Amazon recently removed Google products from its e-commerce platform, and Google dropped support for YouTube on Amazon’s online platforms. In a telling sign of the times, Jeff Bezos of Amazon recently toppled Bill Gates as the richest man on the planet, with an estimated net worth of $105 billion, a solid 13% higher than Gates’ $93 billion. Pay-per-click ad plans that only partner with Google and Bing are soon to be a thing of the past, so make sure you’re not overlooking these niche universes of consumers and their purchasing journey.