We have found that many startup and mid-sized brands have a fairly standard understanding of search related to their business and tend to group their knowledge of search into three main categories. These are SEO or search optimization, search advertising and the traffic that comes from search to their properties. Though brand search marketing views are a typically accurate segmentation that many businesses need in their digital marketing arsenal, the complexities of search marketing tend to be far more complicated and in-depth.

The fact is that not only does search marketing have many more important components within these generalized terms, the evolution of search is something from an episode of the Jetson’s. The challenge for brands becomes a significant need for growth in understanding the many levels and complexities that search has for their overall effectiveness online, but also the current and future changes happening within search. If that wasn’t enough, brands also have to be planning and migrating their digital marketing efforts now, in order to be properly positioned for where search is going into the future.

Let’s take a look at brand search marketing today and where it is going in the future.

Where Is Search Now?

Over the years we have seen search become ubiquitous for internet users as a part of not just using the internet, but normal daily life. The growth in search has been consistent in its evolution, however the main devices consumers use has dramatically transitioned over to mobile devices in the last few years, making mobile the main device used in search, followed by desktop.

Consumer Search Habits

How many people search online monthly?In eMarketer‘s latest report on search, there is a lot of revealing data that should be getting startup and midmarket brands to take notice. The study shows that 71.5% of US consumers conduct searches online at least once per month, which equates to 85% of all internet users. The report also reveals that smartphones searching has become the norm, where nearly 3 in 5 users will search  regularly from their mobile device this year, which is up from less than half just two years ago.

Search Advertising Facts

Search ad spending continues to grow at 13% this rate also and should continue through 2021, largely due to the prevalence of mobile devices within the space. In fact, all of this growth in search spending is occurring on mobile devices. The growth of mobile search is so strong it’s increasing the overall search and ad numbers because of it.

What's the growth of mobile ads?We are seeing a 24.6% growth on mobile ad spending, compared with a 7.3% decline of search ad spend going toward the desktop. Mobile is definitely taking over the search category in general. In fact, 70% of all search ad spending is targeted toward mobile devices conducting search, both on tablets and smartphones. The percentage of search conducted on mobile devices is expected to reach a massive 80% by 2021 and is definitely getting a larger percentage of ad spending in general.

The Future Of Search?

The future of search has some very interesting opportunities. Without any doubt mobile search is taking over the search and search advertising markets, but there are new search segments that brands need to be aware of. These future search types will are just beginning to exit their learning phases, gain prominence with users and position themselves to be players in the future. Here’s a look at the future of search.

Voice Search

Voice search incorporates the way people talk to their devices, which is a much more conversational type of search query from other search segments. Voice search directly affects rank for traditional search results and the content that works on other search types in that the phrases and questions are a bit different for users when making a search query.

Voice search is something that is gaining traction by users, but is not yet something that has taken off and therefore  specific voice search ads hasn’t really hit this new segment. Voice search is currently in a learning phase for ads, but it is becoming clear that being the top one or two search results becomes more crucial as people are often moving when making these search queries with voice. People seem to not want choices when conducting voice searches. They just want the exact and clear answer to their question and when using voice search aren’t interested in learning, they typically just want an answer.

The challenge and opportunity with voice search is really specific for brands. It’s about helping people execute something, rather than educating within the overall purchase journey. The convincing phase is over for the consumer at this point and they are just looking to take final action.

Visual Search

Visual search uses images instead of words to find information. So a consumer uses a picture that they already have or one that they have taken and use that image to conduct a search query. Though the research on this type of search doesn’t really yet exist, due to it being an extremely new segment, it is gaining popularity with users. Though some retail sites and apps like Pinterest have incorporated visual search, it has not yet caught on within the traditional search segment. On Pinterest however, people are using visual search to find something similar to an object for creative reasons or to find things that are related by colors or general look and feel. Pinterest has created an ad product around the feature, but there is really no data on how often it’s used by advertisers or how effective it is at this point.

Image search has the real opportunity to challenge traditional search in the future, but it’s not quite there yet. The targeting options and scenarios for visual search can open a lot of doors because it is truly based on visual technology and not just something that is based on meta tags and other data contained within an image, but actually analysing the picture itself to obtain context and similarities and using that to return search results. Visual search is going to become mainstream and likely very soon. Brands need to take this into consideration and plan for their visual search dominance in the years to come.

Brand Search Marketing Is Digital Transformation

There are a few key points that SMB and startup brands need to take away from this article. I will take a quick moment to outline a few things that you should burn into your digital transformation mindset.

Know Search

Search should be a much bigger part of the understanding, strategy and accountability within your brand’s digital marketing. What I mean by that is that your past level of knowledge of search will not sustain you very long. This ubiquitous part of most people’s daily routine can either positively or negatively affect your brand.

Search Everything

Brands today need to incorporate a deeper understanding of search into all aspects of their business. If you are not actively managing and incorporating a more knowledgeable approach to your website, content creation, blogs, video, social and all other areas of your brand marketing, you will be hurt today and into the future.

Search Behaviors

As we have outlined in considerable detail in this post, a large percentage of internet time is done on mobile devices and it is represented with a larger amount of the ad spends within search. Brands need to uncover how their prospective customers conduct searches from their mobile devices and use that detailed information to make impactful changes to how their content will rank and attract those users. Lastly, brands need to consider mobile search and ultimately mobile experiences as the main design focus, rather than for desktop.