Digital State of the Nation: Search Edition

Bryan Segal
Bryan Segal

comScore’s Bryan Segal delivered SMX Toronto‘s second session, with some comScore search industry insights.

My main take-away from his talk:

  • Paid Search opportunities will get more exciting, just as Organic Search did (video, etc.), and this will cause a rise in Branding Advertisements through search, lifting the industry.

Canadian Search distribution:

  • Google: 81%
  • Bing 4.5%
  • Y! 3.8%
  • eBay 2.1%
  • Ask 2%
  • Facebook 1.8%

Advertising hasn’t kept up. Online takes less than 10% of advertising budget, but it’s growing.

The internet is disproportionately used for direct response advertising.

  • Online: 23% Brand, 77% Direct response
  • Offline: 63% Brand, 37% Brand

Search continues to surge

% of serach result page with a paid ad is decreasing.

CTR has been relatively constant

Beyond SEM. Extending the impact of search data for strategic business decisions

Consumers spend over 40% of their online time on content (and rising), only 25% on email and IM (and dropping).

Community is a relatively new and growing segment

PC search experience is finally beginning to shift towards a richer, more verticalized experience (e.g., Bing on Travel)

Y! offers new ways to engage w/ multimedia from serach results pages directly. Watch Jonas Brothers videos straight from the SERP page.

Google has heavily invested in Universal Search. Google for iPod Touch and find web results w/ deep links to destination pages, news, video, shopping, paid.

Organic becoming a richer experience.

Expect innovations in sponsorship opportunities. Some experiments are underway. On Yahoo!, a Special K search ad turns into a video. They also have photos & descriptions in product listings.

Search distribution will be critical.

Problem: Search has long been considered a direct response medium because of the perception that

  • Text search ads don’t form an emotional connection
  • Search is extremely trackable
  • Search often occurs at the bottom of the funnel
  • Search ads always have a call to action

80% of online ad dollars are spent on direct response

75% of traditional advertising is spent on branding

[Not sure why these numbers differ from the ones he started with, but they tell the same story]

Richer search marketing canvas. Organic is richer, paid hasn’t gotten there yet. Experimentation has begun. is a branding site. 9.5m clicks kw Kraft Food. 2.6 M Paid (27%).

Gave example of how NIKE can use search cross visitation data to decide where to advertise.

Where is search heading?

  • Mobile searches grew 70% over last year
  • Location aware mobile-specific serach products will help drive increased usage
  • Search is the top non-voice on mobile after SMS
  • Social search results need to be more relevant. Social is the next frontier.
  • Early signs of a real true search product at FB.
  • Search is the best direct response opportunity, but it must also begin to capture brand dollars


  • Don’t get caught up in long tail analysis. Group together thematic term sets to quantify topics
  • Search data isn’t just for acquisition.
  • The purchase funnel is an interdependent network.
  • Branding dollars are moving online
  • Remember how important search is to non-search engines. Social Media impacts serach activity and offers serach marketing opportunities.

More SMX Toronto Coverage on Managing Greatness:

      Image courtesy of Elaine the Brain.