iProspect's recent Search Engine User Attitudes Survey indicates that knowing the characteristics of your target audience can play a significant role in determining the amount of paid search listing to include in a marketing mix.
These characteristics include:
- Employment status
- Education level
- Frequency of Internet use
- Years of Internet experience
For example, results show that women find paid search advertisements to be more relevant to their online queries than men do. Looking at the four largest search engines according to market share (Google, Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN), 43.1 percent of female respondents chose a paid search advertisement as the most relevant result to a sample query, compared to just 34.6 percent of men.
However, despite this finding, the results unmistakably indicate that marketers who target a predominantly female audience must focus on both paid search results and natural search results, or they will neglect 40 to 60 percent of potential online customers. Sites that target women include the highly-competitive cosmetic, home fashion, personal care and online toy markets; examples range from Avon.com to Linens ‘n Things to PotteryBarn.com.
The survey results also show that search engine users who are employed full-time find natural search results to be more relevant than users who are employed part-time or not at all. Nearly 65 percent of fully employed respondents chose a natural search result as the most relevant result to a sample query, compared to users who are employed part-time at 60.8 percent and just 55.1 percent of unemployed users.
Education level and time spent online also are factors influencing how users use search. For example, results show that 64.8 percent of college graduates found natural search results more relevant, compared to 56.2 percent of non-college graduates. And more than 65 percent of respondents who said they use the Internet four or more times a day selected a natural search result as more relevant, compared to 56.3 percent of users who identified their Internet use as being less than four times a day.
Focusing on how many years a respondent has been using the Internet, the survey showed 63.2 percent of users who have been online for more than six years chose a natural search result as more relevant. For respondents who have been online four to six years, 60.6 percent chose natural search results as being more significant as well. Only 54 percent of users who had less than three years of online experience chose a natural search result over a paid search advertisement.
"Our sense is that there is a correlation between education level, frequency of Internet use and years of Internet experience that indicates that the more savvy the Internet user, the more likely they are able to differentiate between a paid search advertisement and a natural search result," states iProspect CEO Fredrick Marckini. "As a result, that percentage of the population that avoids advertising in general may be reluctant to click on paid search advertisements in greater numbers, regardless of their feeling about the ad's relevance."