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Searcher Demographics – We Are What We Search

goodman-eli
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“Different strokes for different folks”: a simple enough idea to understand and one that resonates with everyone. We’re all defined by what we like, what we don’t like, what we buy, and what we don’t buy.

Although we’re all amazing and unique individuals (like our parents told us), we do share common attributes. Generalization tends to lead us to choosing between two universal identities, often associated with brand names. In other words, “Are you a Coke person or a Pepsi person?”

Search terms can be parsed in a similar fashion. Every searcher can be defined by the words they use when searching. Search engines and marketers alike know this and do their best to deliver you relevant results based on who they think you are and your intent at that exact moment.

As an extension of the targeting by intent strategy, a sophisticated and growing segment of brands are turning to searcher demographics to conduct detailed analyses of their online audience.

There are already lots of opportunities for marketers to customize their messaging, placement, landing pages, and the like, for every consumer segment, but the brand managers out there have been using search terms to actually identify the attributes of a “Coke” vs. a “Pepsi” searcher.

Considering the money that is spent on brand advertising, knowing how your branded search audience differs from that of the competition should be a valuable nugget of information.

To illustrate the point, below are some fun and interesting universal brand identities with dichotomous stances. Each example analyzes the demographics of searchers that used the branded terms for the month of July, and are based on head of household.

The index baselines are the searcher demographics for the entire U.S. search population. Available measures are age, income, location (home/work), region of the U.S., household size, and presence of children in the household.

Google+ or Facebook?

google-plus-vs-facebook-demos

The most striking differences between Google+ searchers and Facebook searchers are in age and income level.

Google+ searchers overwhelmingly skew toward 18- to 34-year-olds. Clearly Google+ is a popular brand with the younger segments, and good knowledge for Google to have as they develop their acquisition strategy and evolve their user base. Because Facebook is a much more mature brand in the social networking space, their search audience falls closely in line with the search population at large.

The income skews are even more distinct, essentially polar opposites of each other. More than 32 percent of Google+ searchers have a household income of $100,000 or greater, compared to 23 percent of Facebook searchers. Google+ is definitely off to a fast start in reaching the most desirable income segments, which may make it more attractive to advertisers.

Android or iPhone?

iphone-vs-android-demos

Android vs. iPhone is definitely one of the most frequently debated topics around my office. Which phone do you have? Why that one and not the other? Our San Francisco office almost exclusively has iPhones, and our New York office is littered with Androids. But when it comes to searching for these devices, there is almost no difference between us.

As you can see below, iPhone searchers and Android searchers closely mirror each other. Considering that searchers of both brands also conduct almost the exact same number of searches for these phones (about four per searcher), I would liken these searchers to independent voters. They have not made up their minds yet and there will be multiple times to speak with them before they convert and make a purchase.

Knowing that there isn’t a distinct branded search audience would lead me to believe that these searchers are more interested in features, functions, pricing, and carriers, than they would be in defining themselves by the brand, ala Apple fanboys.

Red Sox or Yankees?

red-sox-vs-yankees-demos

The Red Sox vs. the Yankees is as heated a rivalry as there is today. Both sides have won, both sides have lost, and their respective fan bases hate each other with a passion. Rarely have I ever heard a Bostonian say anything nice about New York City, nor discussed the great merits of Boston with other New Yorkers.

But baseball fans are baseball fans, and will have common demographics regardless of the team they support. That said, we do learn a couple of things about their searchers when reviewing the demographics.

Most interesting is where their searchers are based. Both receive a comparable percentage of searches from their own region (43 percent), but Red Sox searchers definitely stay close to the East Coast. Seventy-five percent of their searchers are in the New England, Mid Atlantic, and South Atlantic regions. The Yankees, on the other hand, have a more broadly distributed fan base across the country, even receiving 13 percent of their searchers from the Pacific region.

With this kind of information, teams, ticket sellers, and sports-themed travel companies can better determine where to focus their geo-targeting and messaging efforts. The Yankees Faithful certainly don’t seem to be settling in New England, and Red Sox Nation doesn’t appear terribly interested in places west of the Mississippi.

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Searcher demographics can prove to be valuable for your business and your brand. It’s one thing to quantify your branded searchers, it is another to know and understand them. The conversation you’ll be able to have with them will only be enhanced. To paraphrase “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you will elevate the discussion from small talk to medium talk.


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