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The Virtuous Circle - The Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway (Research from GroupM Search)

The Virtuous Circle - The Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway (Research from GroupM Search)

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Published by GroupM_Next
Groundbreaking research from GroupM Search, together with Dell, leading brands in the telecommunications and CPG categories, and comScore, providing valuable business insights into the role search and social media play in the path to purchase for online consumers. The study also reveals where consumers start, what the touch points are along their journey to purchase, and the motivations of consumers when they engage with these two channels - both search and social media. www.groupmsearch.com/research
Groundbreaking research from GroupM Search, together with Dell, leading brands in the telecommunications and CPG categories, and comScore, providing valuable business insights into the role search and social media play in the path to purchase for online consumers. The study also reveals where consumers start, what the touch points are along their journey to purchase, and the motivations of consumers when they engage with these two channels - both search and social media. www.groupmsearch.com/research

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: GroupM_Next on Feb 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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The VirtuousCircle
The Role of Search and SocialMedia in the Purchase Pathway
February 2011
 
The consumer journey toward purchase has in many ways become like this with morenew media drivers, such as Google and Microsoft, and misdirection, via consumer opinions on blogs and Facebook, making the beginning and end of the path, lessapparent to advertisers.As a result, brands are unsure which came first and how best tomotivate consumers to engage with their brands during and after the purchase path.In 2009, GroupM Search released the first industry study ever conducted exploring theinterplay between search and social media, titled
The Influenced: Social Media, Search,and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption
(
see inset).
In this study, GroupMSearch sought to understand the relationship consumers were establishing with brandsvia both search and social media.While search has become a ubiquitous term, as is well defined by the likes of Google,social media remains a more nebulous phrase. For this research social media is definedas the destinations which create communities or networks for sharing of information inword, image or video. These destinations range from brand-owned social media, such asa brand’s blog, to earned social media, such as content about a category created by thecommunity and fostered by the brand, to paid social media, such as sponsored and/or promoted areas of sites, including Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
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The chicken or the egg? If everything must have a clearly-defined beginning to reach anatural conclusion, then surely something had to come first. But, as it pertains to these causalelements, it would seem that understanding the sequence of events is still up for debate.
In 2009, GroupM Search, together with social media agency M80 andcomScore, conducted a researchinitiative to understand the interplaybetween search and social media. At that time, social media was so newthat the ability to properly measure itsimpact had yet to evolve to the levelsavailable today, when the worth of afriend or the value of a retweet areroutinely used as barometersof success.The study,
The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption
, was thefirst project of its kind to associate theinfluence social media was having onsearch activity.Through this correlation itwas learned that brands could start toinvest in social media not simply on theperceived merits of the channel alone,but also on the tangible impact socialmedia had on a long-standing, top-performing channel, search.The study found a strong correlationbetween search and social media, aswell as further evidence that upper funnel engagement drives lower funnelactivity. The study also revealed theinfluence social media has on specificsearch activity. For all types of keywords the influence was found to besubstantial, but lower funnel termssurrounding campaign brands andbrand products saw large increases insearch activity when users alsoengaged in either category-level socialmedia or specific social media ownedby the brands themselves.Search and social media have strongconnective tissue between them.Several insights derived from theresearch remain actionable today andimportant to the strategy and executionof search and social media programs. As Barbara Basney, director of globaladvertising for Xerox was quoted in the
Wall Street Journal 
following the launchof these findings, “Social media isgiving us another way to help influencepeople’s propensity to search.”
The VirtuousCircle: The Roleof Search andSocial Media inthe PurchasePathway
February 2011
The Influenced: The Correlation Between Search and Social Media
 
The study revealed a significant correlation between engagement with thetwo channels. Further, it showed that the value of social media can be better measured by way of its influence on paid search performance as opposedto most efforts typically used to quantify the value of a friend or follower for a brand. As a follow-up to this research,
GroupM Search partnered with leadingconsumer electronics manufacturer Dell, and other clients of GroupM’smedia planning and buying agencies, including key brands in thetelecommunications and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries.
GroupM Search developed and conducted a comprehensive study, together with digital measurement specialist comScore, in order to further understandthe causal relationship between search and social media as it pertains to theonline purchase pathway up to and through conversion into brand loyalty.This research also aimed to begin to answer the next important question inchicken philosophy: the motivation for crossing the road? The first studyexamined the process by which consumers arrived at purchase, using acommon illustration familiar to marketers—the purchase funnel. Findingsconfirmed that when consumers were exposed to both search and socialmedia influenced by a brand that overall search CTR went up by 94%.In the 18 months since that research was completed little has occurred todiminish the importance of these two channels. In fact, the digital ecosystem islargely evolving around the worlds of Google and Facebook. As such, brandowners are anxious to understand how to leverage each of these channels.Through the “virtuous circle” of causal interplay it is becoming clear that abrand must have engagement and content strategies that satisfy specificexpectations from consumers. Brands are being presented with opportunitiesto set down digital signposts and assist consumers to an end outcome thatpleases everyone. The virtuous circle suggests that the brands that listen andadapt in search and social media can not only capture a disproportionateamount of initial sales but build on their loyalty efforts.
The Path
When looking at the role search and social media play in the purchasepathway, the new consumer journey is revealed in the places to whichconsumers now turn and the signposts they use to navigate the decision-making process.What is not in doubt in this pathway is a consumer’s starting point.
In nearly 60%of all consumer journeys that end in purchase, the starting point is a search.
The VirtuousCircle: The Roleof Search andSocial Media inthe PurchasePathway
February 2011
Methodology
The research was conducted using both behavioral and survey analysis of consumersfrom comScore’s opt-in, passively tracked panel of morethan 1 million Internet users inthe United States. GroupM Search identified key conversion metrics for theadvertisers studied, including  purchase, subscriptions, and key asset views. Extensive click stream analysis was conducted of online behaviors threemonths prior to conversion for consumers who converted withthe participating brands. For thesurvey portion of the research,respondents consisted of consumers who had made a purchase in the studied categories in the three months prior to taking the survey and who had used search and/or social media in the process.The behavioral analysis and survey portions of the researchwere conducted between April and November, 2010.
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