Each of the three leading search engines engaged in multi-million pound advertising campaigns over the past 12 months. Yahoo and Microsoft put their money into promotion of their respective search engines, while Google opted to promote its Chrome browser. theEword SEO copywriter Tom Mason examines the effects of each of these marketing campaigns.
Campaign: It's You!
Tag line: "The internet is under new management. Yours."
Theme: The campaign's theme focused on the way browsers could personalise the internet through Yahoo. The strategy – which involved a series of characters featuring on billboards around the UK – portrayed the search engine as a completely customisable experience.
Cost: $100m (global)
"Today the Web and your world are inseparable. Hundreds of millions of people use Yahoo to get the information they need, connect with friends and family, and be entertained. We are about creating online experiences people find meaningful, relevant, and fun." (Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz)
"Our vision is to be at the center of people’s online lives—to be at the place where their world meets the larger world. Our new branding will focus on people—the power and promise of you." (Elisa Steele, Yahoo executive vice president and chief marketing officer)
"Yahoo took a bold approach in its marketing campaign. The site focused on its core services, such as its mail and messenger service, to promote the ways users could personalise their experiences online."
Success: Yahoo grabbed 18.8 per cent of the search market share in September, although this figure declined throughout October (18 per cent) and November (17.5 per cent).
Campaign: Search Overload Syndrome
Tag line: Bing and decide
Theme: Search is too confusing, or at least, that's what Bing would have us believe. In a series of online, print and radio adverts, the campaign for the launch of Bing focused on the simplicity of the search experience.
Cost: $80-$100 million (estimated)
"The first thing we're trying to do with this campaign is to capitalize with the latent dissatisfaction that's going on with the market." (Danielle Tiedt, general manager, Online Audience Business Group Marketing at Microsoft)
"Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the web and find information, but they don’t do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find. Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they’ve found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions." (Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO)
"Bing tries to convince the user that it offers a simpler way of searching the internet. The campaign quickly establishes itself as 'not Google', a marketing strategy which portrays Bing as an easier search experience."
Success: Bing experienced a steady increase in search share beyond its initial advertising period. Despite fears of a drop in users after the campaign finished, its share grew from 8 per cent of the market in May to 10.3 per cent in November.
Tag line: Chrome by Google
Theme: Google took its first steps into the advertising world with a billboard and national newspaper campaign for its internet browser. The approach highlighted the apparent reliability of the service.
"10 days of holiday left, about to expire; 27 emails between my wife and I hatching travel plans; 7 potential travel plans generated on 4 travel sites, 3 playlists generated on Spotify. 6 tabs open, 0 crashes, 1 browser." (Google Chrome advertisement)
"It’s odd to see the masters of new media advertising using such traditional means to promote its browser. They’re clearly reaching out to the non-geek Internet Explorer 6 users out there." (the Next Web)
"Google typically shies away from offline advertising, so to see this marketing campaign came as a surprise to many in the SEO community. The Chrome marketing strategy is quite clever, highlighting not only the reliability of the browser, but its universal appeal."
Success: Google Chrome clocked up a 4.63 per cent of the market. This is compared to the 3.93 per cent it registered in November.