At the Search Engine Strategies 2005 conference this past August in San Jose, CA, search advertisers pleaded with Google to reveal more demographic and geographic information about the people using their search engine. While the company acknowledged advertisers’ desire for such data, their representative denied the request, suggesting that privacy concerns prevent Google from divulging more information about users like other online media outlets do.
The truth is, though search engines can steer a lot of users to a site, they can’t tell you anything about those customers, besides the fact that they searched on a particular keyword. Worse yet, some of that traffic coming in through search engines might not represent actual interested consumers at all, but automated searches performed by nefarious computer bots. An August 18 Wired News story revealed that when small search engine firm BlowSearch tested its click fraud blocking tool to gauge the impact of phony clicks on its own site, it “watched its own search traffic plummet.” It should come as no surprise that the more popular search engines have paid little more than lip service to the click fraud problem.
Catching the Evasive Consumer
The rising cost of keywords—driven by search marketing popularity as well as click fraud—doesn’t help marketers achieve a solid ROI, either. According to search marketing firm iProspect.com Inc., the cost of search keywords industry-wide rose an average of 43.7 percent in 2004. While paying to get to the top of the search results list makes for great exposure and lots of clicks, it doesn’t necessarily equal conversion. And without conversion, once a user has left a site she visited through a search engine, she’s gone. No information on how to reach that person with a follow-up offer has been collected, so all a marketer can hope is that she’ll return to the site on her own.
There is, however, another option. Co-registration, like search marketing, can bring in tens of thousands of potential customers each month. But rather than asking marketers to take the risk of having potential customers leave a site without converting or providing any contact information, co-registration ensures that marketers have the ability to connect with those interested consumers for weeks, months, even years after their initial visit. When people express a genuine interest in learning more about a product or service through co-registration, marketers can do more than simply hope they’ll come back — they can contact them directly.