Search Marketing in Canada: Roundtable

Apr 25, 2006 • 11:44 am | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2006 Toronto
 

Moderator: Andrew Goodman, Principal, Page Zero Media Inc. gives us some background on the event. It is the 3rd SES in Toronto. The first two times they did this session, they had formal presentations. This time it will be more interactive. It will be a Q&A, where Andrew has Qs for the panel.

Panel Includes: Gino Coutu, President and CEO, NetWorldMedia Mitch Joel, President, Twist Image Jonathan Lister, Vice President, Audience, AOL Canada, Inc. Nancy Peterson, President, HomeStars.ca Richard Zwicky, CEO and Founder, Metamend Eric Morris From Google

Q: Sophistication of searchers and SEMs? Jonathan said SEMs are getting more sophisticated. From offline marketing, and its impact on online and search efforts. Mitch said the sophistication falls under the "long tail." The "niche" keywords, three to five keyword phrase searches. Gino said SEMs are lagging behind in using tools, such as metric tools and so on. Very few are tracking here. And searchers are also lagging behind, using 1 to 2 words for searches mostly. Eric said Canadians are not a lot more sophisticated than they were two years ago. On the SEM side, marketers have become more sophisticated. Jonathan said he is not sure on searcher sophistication, but he is sure the product is not where it needs to be today. You are typically refining your own searches. Andrew said he agrees, searchers don't need to reach a level of searching that Gary Price or Chris Sherman is at. Lazy search will be here with us for a while. So the products are what we need to see improved. Nancy added, ummm :) ill leave it out

No real data here....

Q: It has been a chicken and egg Q... Has the made in Canada shopping site changed user experience? Or a US based site that ships within Canada? Gino said the currency is very important and we have seen major conversion differences, in both French and English. Mitch said from Amazon.ca is so different from Amazon.com, and the .ca is like 3 versions ahead. The flip side of it, is that, Canadian based companies are building fantastic sites that can be used globally. Eric said it almost doesn't matter. The point is to sell things. Just because people aren't buying them online at the moment, they may buy in a store later. It is more difficult to measure, but a good marketing opportunity. Mitch says that site search has got much better these days. Jonathan said Canadian portals haven't done a great job of getting Canadian searchers in front of Canadian merchants. Richard said TigerDirect does a great job, but sectors like Travel do worse. The usage rate in some sectors has not risen with the quality.

Q: Size of the Canadian market...? Andrew said it is an opportunity, a first to market issue. Nancy said she also looks at it as an opportunity, and with her site, she helps the market build some sort of Web presence. Eric said, if the Q is about retailers and not having enough is one Q. On the SEM side, it is an opportunity, the ppc market is an auction. The CPC is lower than in the US. Also, more people in Canada search, by percentage, is higher than in the US. Mitch said, as a marketer we always want bigger, better, faster... So we keep pushing our clients, our markets forward. Right now, there are no standards or rules. Jonathan, we may be at the low hanging fruit phase. But early results have been fantastic. Gino echoing others.... Mitch ads there are also portals and other sites where you can create traffic for your site. Nancy adds that testing is the best part, since you can measure it.

Q: How has the art of search, integrated with the science of search? Mitch said the science comes out of the creativity (art). That is where the "sweet" opportunity is. Part of that is the ability to play with it (low cost ads). Jonathan added, you need to know your target customer - their behavior, how they search, etc.

Q: Search has exploded for a lot of individual marketers, looking for opportunities. In Canada, we have the same process going on. Are there certain verticals that are the big money areas? Are there big dollar verticals in the US but not exploited in Canada? Andrew said anything in Financial, Travel, Jobs. Jonathan said there is still a lot of content that needs more traction. Entertainment is one area. The content creates the new avenues to market against (um, yeaaaa - so). Mitch asked the panel, do you see a vertical that is specific to Canada? Richard said 22% of Canadians research travel online but very few book online, but in the US it's totally different, more people book online. Andrew added, customer acquisition online, there is a bigger lag in the acquisition from time of inspection. Eric added, there are two types of companies - niche companies and the big ones. The niche companies are always on search, year round. The big companies, they are all lagging behind their US counterparts, in every industry. 18 - 24 months behind US SEMs. US marketers are far more likely to track their results. In Canada, many are not using analytics to track. US companies do a better job of typing search with other marketing initiatives. In Canada, not yet. Mitch adds the SEMs should educate the rest of the marketers. Gino adds there are a few leaders that show a presence all year round in Canada. ING, TD Bank, FutureShops, etc. all deploy search year round (in response to Eric). Nancy said the challenge is not in measurement, but rather - there is a million different sites. The biggest question-mark is how to drive them to a site. The creativity...

Q: Regional search behavior differences... Richard has some slides... - Search Traffic Comes From -- 34.60% from ON -- 25.93% from BC -- 15.14% from AB -- 11.45% from QC -- 3.30% from MB - Toronto v.s Vancouver -- The engines that send the traffic to the Web sites vary greatly. 48% came from Google CA targeting Toronto, but 69% targeting Vancouver. 22% MSN CA for Toronto, 4.8% MSN CA targeting Vancouver. - He then extracted search phrases that brought in traffic to a particular site. He shows how they search differently between Toronto and Vancouver. - In Canada they search for "homes" in the US you search for "houses"

Q: Canada is a small market, so Quebec, is a small market within the small market. How can we tap into the French speaking Canadian market. Gino said the assumption the traffic will come from is Google, Yahoo and MSN. But the local engines drive more searches that are specific to more companies and products. Gino sees the searches that are different between a Google search and a local search. The market is split between them and Google, they have 45% of the market share and Google having 50% of the share. They see the traffic in Quebec being different from the rest of Canada. Do not assume Google is the end all, look at the other engines as well, to put your budget towards. Mitch adds that it may not be significant, in terms of the numbers - but there is a certain level of maturity in terms of how people search. The level of usage is pretty high, and search plays a huge component of that.

Q: Local search is one of the most exciting trends going on these days. He asks the the audience a few Qs. Richard said they are seeing a lot of local advertisers coming in, in this market. Social networking sites, you can see 14% of Google Local referrers and 7% for Yahoo Local. Eric said its important to use local keywords and local tools. Andrew added said geo targeting is huge these days. Eric said if you are not a local business, you can still use local ads in a smart way.

Some audience member said that Yellow Page is huge in Canada. SuperPages in the US has 10% of the local search market share, he said. But in Canada, it is 35% of the market share and Google has 15% share. In Quebec, he said SuperPages has 50% share. Interesting... I don't have this data, so I currently can not verify it.

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