Searcher Behavior

Feb 28, 2005 - 2:48 pm 0 by

They moved us all from a smaller room to a larger room and it is still a bit small. So they are moving walls around to make it even larger, movable walls - nice. Danny reused his normal joke about committing to the session and "we will commit to you" and people laughed (I guess we have newbies here).

Leading off is Dr. Bonny Brown from Keynote Systems (from Vividence), who will talk from the customers perspective. Keynote's mission is to improve e-businesses worldwide by focusing on the technical aspects and customer experience management space. She explains that there is often very little insight when tracking users as to where people get lost during the clickstream. To get the "complete customer behavior" you need more detail. Customers have expectations, and you need to understand and measure them. Then you need to understand the "whys" actions of behavior. Keynote measures industry metrics to get a better picture for benchmarks. They invite panelists, they logon, they ask you to search the Web with a toolbar (which does all that fun tracking). The results... Google is number one from a customer's experience ranking. Yahoo is number two and MSN is number three BUT Yahoo and MSN are both closing in on Google. She says, Ask Jeeves it a clear success by showing substantial gains. Ad clicking behavior seems to be INVERSELY related to the above numbers (search experience). Just keep in mind that Ask Jeeves gives you very little choice but to click on the sponsored ads (rumors are that they are going to limit that). You find a lot more frustration with searchers on complex searches. 95% use Google sometimes or often, 64% use it as their primary engine. 1 in 3 are using a toolbar. 17% use different search engines for different types of searches. 92% said they used the engines to find products. Relevance is #1 factor in search loyalty, including sponsored results. On the behavior side, they are able to see what people actually do. 3 of 4 of the people who they sat in front of a computer and asked them to find information used a search engine (wow, 25% didn't use an engine). 48% Google, 29% Yahoo!. They also measured the time they spent on the sites. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Amazon, eBay in that order are the time spent on those sites but eBay has a lot more pageviews then Google.

Gord Hotchkis from Enquiro was going to share some eye tracking studies with the help of Did-It (Kevin Lee). He explained the possible influencers include type of user, presence of brand, trusted URLs, demographics and trusted sources of information. And they expected to see a strong correlation between these sources. But what they saw was that the most important influencer was ranking. Of all the click throughs on organic listings, 24% on number 1, 19.5% number two and 12.8% on the number three listings. They came up with a theory named, the search confidence theory, which means, you trust the engine you use to give you relevant results. As you hit that back button, throughout a session, you lose your confidence level. So as you hit that back button and go to new results, you expect them to care more about the influencers listed above as opposed to just ranking. So to prove this theory, they did some eye tracking studies. They ran 50 people through in their labs, they aggregated this information at this time. He showed a slide of red, orange, blue, black, etc. The bulk of the red orange is at the top left, right where the top three results are. The majority of the eye activity is at the top, they called it "Search's Golden Triangle" which appears to include the sponsored listings and the "hidden tabs". The number one listing gets a high level of activity. The eye goes first to the top left point, then it moves to the right, to read that one listing. Then they scroll in a vertical line down on the left side, if any of those results catch someone's attention they move right again. If they don't find anything, 60% will scroll down and continue the pattern - the other 40% will look at the sponsored listings on the right. This study was only performed on Google. So you need to put something at the beginning at the title, that will catch their eyes (@#%$$). In the "golden triangle" visibility is huge up to ranking 3, then you drop off to about 60% in 4th position, and then 6, 7 and 8 go to 50% and then at 8, 9 10 drop big time 20%. Now clickthroughs, number one position 28% CTR, and then on #2 12%, and #3 11% or so, and then it drops to 6% for the remainder. So why aren't everyone clicking on the top three (numbers two and three have a much worse CTR then #1)? They click away. Sponsored results differ that the first two at the top are high visibility, and on the right side, it is very low visibility. He then summarized and told us what he wants to do more with these studies.

Last up, Cam Balzer from Perfomics (DoubleClick just bought them in July 04). They looked at search activity that lead up to the purchase or transaction. Most search tracking just looks at the last click before the purchase and most people look at the same session value (latency isnt being used). The methodology was to use ComScore's panel, identified 30 e-commerce sites in four verticals, and they identified all the buyers on the panel for a 30 day period and finally they weeded out all the random searches done. They basically weeded out a ton of irrelevant searches. They found that there are a lot of people using search before they buy. In all four verticals about 50% use search before they buy. Marketers have several opportunities to reach buyers, around 6 - 12 searches per user (interesting). They also looked at how brand keywords perform versus generic terms. Majority of search activity is around generic keywords all through the buying process (triangle searching?) Most buyers never search on a merchant brands, less then 30% on the computer vertical searched on a brand. Branded search activity peaks immediately prior to purchase. But on the computer vertical the brand search peak is much lower right before the purchase as compared to the other verticals. Almost 55% in travel space, did their last search almost two weeks before they purchased something (two weeks!). People who buy off a brand term normally start off with a generic search, but those who buy off a generic search don't normally search brand in the process. He says search is getting more competitive, to capitalize on this opportunity, you need to fully understand the value of search (not just a two week window).


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