Here's a piece of news that's not going to surprise many of you: Google isn't disappearing any time soon. This means that pay-per-click media agencies will continue to grow, but this will also become an opportunity for creative agencies as well with a small re-adjustment in how we think about connecting with audiences. The Pew Internet & American Life Project research study last year reaffirmed the ever growing dominance of search:
"The percentage of internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of just under one half (49%). With this increase, the number of those using a search engine on a typical day is pulling ever closer to the 60% of internet users who use email, arguably the internet’s all-time killer app, on a typical day."
You might be wondering - like I did - why the other 51% don't use search engines every day, but what is most interesting here is that 49% of your market is using keywords that indicate what they are interested in, what they might want to buy, and are reachable.
Keywords are doorways to content and desires. Creative agencies should be as focused on them as pay-per-click media agencies. I think we should start all digital planning as a project in search engine optimisation. Search is consumer desire digitally encoded - a lightning rod directly into the consumer zeitgeist. Work out what your audience is searching for and why, decide which keywords to target, and ruthlessly optimise the experience to map to these desires.
The only real anomaly in all of this is that creative agencies are all about demand creation, whilst search is about demand fulfillment, but if we catch the consumer at an exploratory stage - before product decisions have been made, then something all together different starts to happen. It takes a small re-adjustment in agency mindset to understand and exploit this, but the results could be huge.