OTOinsights "Implications for User Engagement with Search Engine Result Pages"

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s consumer behavior continues to rapidly migrate to an on-demand model where
the customer controls the purchase cycle, search engine usage continues to rise as a primary means of Web navigation. With the massive increase in multimedia content that is uploaded, stored, and consumed online, major search engines have continued
to evolve beyond simply indexing pages of text and are now providing results
based on a full array of video, audio, and image formats. The inclusion of these digital assets is widely known as Universal Search. As Universal Search becomes
a more permanent fixture within search engine result pages (SERPs), users’
interactions with the new generation of results should be of particular interest to companies who are focused on generating quality search engine traffic.

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  • 1. I mpl IcatIons of User e ngagement wIth se arch engIne resUlt pages JeremI Karnell • Dan BerlIn • greg slama
  • 2. execUtIve sUmmary : : as consumer behavior continues to rapidly migrate to an on-demand model where the customer controls the purchase cycle, search engine usage continues to rise as a primary means of web navigation. with the massive increase in multimedia content that is uploaded, stored, and consumed online, major search engines have continued to evolve beyond simply indexing pages of text and are now providing results based on a full array of video, audio, and image formats. the inclusion of these digital assets is widely known as Universal search. as Universal search becomes a more permanent fixture within search engine result pages (serps), users’ interactions with the new generation of results should be of particular interest to companies who are focused on generating quality search engine traffic. It is well established that rankings on a serp have much to do with whether a user is likely to click on a given result and higher rankings can actually have a positive effect on a brand’s perception and ‘likeability’ (marketingsherpa, 2009). with the onset of Universal search results, this study sought to measure the user impact of this new generation of search engine result pages. specifically, we wanted to understand if there was a difference in emotional engagement with the results and if that would impact click propensity in paid and natural search. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 1
  • 3. s t U Dy o B J e c t I v e : : oBJectIves for thIs stUDy InclUDe the followIng: To compare user engagement when searchers are exposed to universal search stimuli vs. more traditional text-only results and provide direction for future media optimization: • Identify the potential impact of search engine evolution on • future search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns • Determine changes in user behavior when presented with various • digital assets consistent with current Universal search parameters • Asses the viability of Universal search becoming a more • prominent part of SERPs • Use preliminary data to inform a formal study to glean more • quantitative and actionable insights QUalItatIve caveat Although consistencies in the data lend confidence to the analysis, the results of this research must be viewed as directional rather than conclusive. This study raises more questions than answers, but provides the groundwork for future studies. InsIghts • SERPs which include Universal Search results reinforce eyeballs to • stay focused on the first page’s top paid and natural search results • The inclusion of Universal Search results increase emotional • engagement during interactions with a SERP Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 2
  • 4. IntroDUctIon_serps & seo : : Currently, one of the most effective and efficient ways to search for digital content is through the use of a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. In fact, a recent Forrester report indicates that search engines are the primary method of finding Web sites: 72% of adults said that they use search engines to find Web sites (li, 2008). These search engines rank Web site pages and ads based on various criteria to determine relevance to a particular search (Figure 1). NATURAl SEARChRelevance of content PAID SEARCh Relevance of content Bid Keyword use it Title attributes Quality Score Site architecture Click Through Rate (CTR) link popularity (anchor text & topical relevance) Domain age fIgUre 1: Search Ranking Factors We are now moving into a new generation of search optimization where digital assets beyond pure text come into play. Introduced by Google in May 2007, Universal Search attempts to index, categorize, and display the most relevant information for a search query regardless of format (audio, video, images, news, local results, and other rich content). This search method is quickly replacing the traditional text only results and is constantly adjusting to better conform to user behavior and intent. This study serves to highlight the impact that Universal Search results have on consumer engagement and click behavior. Our findings underscore the need for marketers to consider the optimization of all digital assets to maintain a competitive advantage as we move to the next generation of SEM. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 3
  • 5. Seventeen participants who were interested in changing their cable service were recruited by a third-party recruiter. The participants were invited to OTOinsights’ Quantemo™ lab for a one-on-one session. They were first asked to choose five search terms from a list of ten terms that may be used by individuals who are looking to change their cable service (Figure 2). Cable Internet Internet Service Cable Television Comcast DVR Comcast hD Service DirecTV ComcasT Triple Play Comcast on Demand Verizon FiOS FIGURE 2: Study Search Terms For each of these search terms, four Google SERPs were created: one with only the natural links (FIGURE 3: Natural Only), one with the natural links and paid links (FIGURE 4: Natural w/ Paid), one with only the Universal links (FIGURE 5: Universal w/o Paid), and one with the Universal and Paid links (FIGURE 6: Universal w/ Paid) (see page 4 for FIGURES 3-6). The SERP was presented for 1 minute while the participants’ physiological traces were recorded and calculated using OTOinsights’ Quantemo™ Engagement Index (QEI). Additionally, the participants’ eyes were tracked using a Tobii 1750 eye tracker. After the minute, participants were asked which links they would click first, then second. They were then instructed to fill out the surveys which comprise the emotional component of the QEI. 1 PATENT PENDING Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 4
  • 6. s e a r c h e n g I n e r e s U lt s pa g e ( s e r p s ) : : FIGURE 3: Natural Only FIGURE 4: Natural w/ Paid FIGURE 5: Universal w/o Paid FIGURE 6: Universal w/ Paid Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 6
  • 7. Q Ua n t e m o ™ e n g ag e m e n t I n D e x : : While viewing the Web pages, participants were connected to OTOinsights’ Quantemo™ neuromarketing research system. Quantemo™ simultaneously records biophysical signals in addition to eye and click tracking information. The recorded biophysical measures are combined into a single representative measure of physiological engagement: the Quantemo™ Physiological Index, or QPI. The QPI serves as a single point of reference for the overall level of physical engagement (or disengagement) exhibited by a research participant. higher QPI scores represent stronger physiological engagement, while negative QPI scores represent weaker physiological engagement. After viewing a page, the participant fills out two surveys: the Geneva Emotion Wheel (GEW) and an Aesthetic likert (1-5) scale. Developed by the researchers at the Swiss National Research Center in Affective Sciences, the GEW is designed to obtain self-report information on a wide range of felt emotions elicited by a particular event (in the case of this study, observing a Web page) (Scherer, 2005). The QPI, aesthetic score, and emotional descriptor scores are combined to form the Quantemo™ Engagement Index, or QEI. Calculating the QEI produces a single, representative and holistic measure of user engagement that allows researchers to correlate the objective physiological data of the QPI with the subjective, self-report data of the ratings and emotion scores. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 7
  • 8. InsIghts : : SERPs which include video and image results reinforce eyeballs to stay focused on the first page top paid and natural search results. The “Universal w/ Paid” SERP is what visitors will encounter when utilizing search engines. As such, we examined the eye-tracking and click results from this SERP type to determine where each user first looked and clicked. It is no surprise that the top paid links received a large number of first fixations and clicks (see Figures 7 and 8, respectively). U nIv e rsal w/ paID s e arch f I r st f I xat I o n U n I ve r sa l w/ pa I D s e a r c h c lI c Ks 45% 12 % o f pa rt I c I pa n ts % o f pa rt I c I pa n ts 40% 1st click 10 35% 39% 7 2nd click 8 6 30% 25% 6 20% 2 22% 15% 4 1 17% 1 10% 3 4 3 3 2 1 11% 2 3 2 1 5% 6% 6% 1 1 1 0% 0 top page vIDeo 1st rIght 1st 1st top other vIDeo rIght Image mUltI- 2nD news paID top lInK paID pIctUre lInK paID lInK paID lInKs lInKs fIgUre 7: Universal with Paid First Fixations FIGURE 8: Universal with Paid however, notice the location of the video results in both graphs. The video was typically fixated upon before both the first natural and the right paid links. The video link also received more clicks than the multilinks and the second natural link. These findings have great implications for those companies who are already optimizing their Web site: it may not be enough to optimize just the text. For example, consider the Google multilinks which are an indented list of site topics determned by the search engine when a site is ranked in the first natural position. Figure 8 shows that the video results are likely to receive more clicks than the multilinks. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 8
  • 9. Figures 9 and 10 show the first fixation and clicks for the “Universal w/o Paid” SERP, respectively. The importance of optimizing media is also highlighted from these results. Notice that the image links received more first fixations and clicks than the multilinks and the second natural link. The advent of Universal search demands that companies optimize not only their site text, but also their media to ensure that their images, videos, and other content are properly indexed and show up in Universal search results. U nIv e r sa l U n I ve r sa l c lI c Ks 35% 20 % o f pa rt I c I pa n ts 30% 18 % o f pa rt I c I pa n ts 8 1st click 29% 16 2nd click 25% 14 25% 25% 20% 12 10 9 15% 8 2 10% 13% 6 4 11 5% 8% 6 2 1 2 3 2 2 2 2 0% 0 1st page Image mUltI- vIDeo other 1 st Image mUltI- 2nD vIDeo zIp lInK top lInKs lInK lInK lInKs lInK coDe fIgUre 9: Universal First Fixations fIgUre 10: Universal Clicks There were also interesting differences in the participants’ gaze patterns on the different SERPs. Figures 11 and 12 show 30 seconds of eye-tracking for a “Natural w/ Paid” and a “Universal w/ Paid” SERP, respectively. On some of the pages without Universal results (those without images or videos), the gazes seemed to follow Nielsen’s F-pattern (Figure 11) (Nielsen, 2006). however, on the pages with Universal results, the gaze pattern seemed to follow the ‘golden triangle’ identified by Enquiro (Figure 12) (MarketingSherpa, 2009). Additionally, notice the drop-off in views below the images in Figure 12. The images seem to keep the users’ eyes near the top of the page. These findings align with the second insight of the study: Universal results were more engaging to the participants. Since the images and videos caused engagement, the participants were less likely to explore the rest of the SERP. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 9
  • 10. fIgUre 11: Natural w/ Paid Eye Tracking fIgUre 12: Universal w/ Paid Eye Tracking Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 10
  • 11. Videos and image results increase engagement on a SERP Utilizing the QEI as an overall measure of engagement, we found that the SERPs with images and videos were QUa n t em o ™ en g ag em en t InD e x more engaging to the participants. Figure 13 shows the 0.70 engagement results of the physiological and emotional engagement Results had images and videos hIgher 0.60 data produced by the QEI. The results in the middle 0.50 show the QEI for the Universal results, which had a 0.40 0.44 higher engagement level than those without Universal 0.30 0.37 engagement results. This is not surprising given that images and 0.20 lower 0.10 videos will give the user ‘instant gratification’ with a 0.07 0.08 0.00 single gaze. That is, instead of having to read text, the natUral UnIversal UnIversal natUral only w/ paID only w/ paID user will quickly process the images and videos, increasing fIgUre 13: Engagement levels for 4 SERP Types engagement. These findings underscore the impact that brand marketing has on search marketing strategies. A prime example of the salience of images, particularly brand logos, is evident from the gaze plot in Figure 14. This figure shows 28 seconds of eye tracking for a particular participant. Notice the amount of time that the participant spends on the Verizon and Comcast logos in the image area. It took the participant 50 fixations to get to the images, but then spent 38 fixations on the images themselves. There is no doubt that these logos were interesting to the participant. This has the implication that further research is warranted to determine if SERPs with brand images result in a higher propensity to make a purchase. fIgUre 14: 28 Second Gaze Plot Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 11
  • 12. ImplIcatIons for marKeters • Creating a holistic strategy which considers all search interactions • will provide a competitive advantage and drive more engaged visitors • through your SEM activities • Begin to think about current digital assets and how they can be • • leveraged to gain additional reach with the search engines • Top Paid results are the highest focal point within typical search • results and provide a great branding opportunity • It will continue to be important for brands to maintain high positions • within Paid and Natural results to generate click volume and increase • brand perceptions • Natural Search top results will continue to be the primary driver • of search engine traffic and should be a major focus on optimization • initiatives ImplIcatIons for fUtUre stUDIes • Does media in searches change users’ propensity to purchase? • Does brand exposure on a SERP change users’ engagement and • click behavior? • Do positional changes in non-text results impact users’ click • propensity and engagement? conclUsIons The findings from this study highlight the importance of optimizing media (video & images) for companies who want to drive traffic to their Web site from search engines. Traditional SEO efforts may help get links in the top few positions of the natural results. But, the Universal search paradigm demands that companies pay closer attention to their optimization of digital assets to increase the likelihood of inclusion in search results. This study provides evidence that videos and images are not only changing a user’s first fixation, but that these media formats positively increase the user’s emotional engagement during the time they were reviewing the Universal SERP. This underscores the importance of branding and the strategic role it should play in search engine marketing efforts. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 12
  • 13. w or K s c I t e D : : li, C. (2008). how Consumers Find Web Sites. Cambridge, MA: Forrester Research, Inc. MarketingSherpa. (2009). 2009 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide. Warren, RI: MarketingSherpa llC. Nielsen, J. (2006, April 17). F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content. Retrieved March 19, 2009, from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html Scherer, K. (2005). What Are Emotions? And how Can They Be Measured? Social Science Information , 44 (4), 695-729. Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 13
  • 14. amplIfyIng engagement New knowledge about human behavior brought to light by social and neuroscience has fundamentally called into question the old mental models of how advertising and marketing work. Gone is the notion that consumers make decisions in a linear think-feel-do way and behavior is guided by rational-only principles. Instead, memories, emotions, associations, and thoughts play a primary role in how individuals relate and ultimately engage with brands. OTOinsights is a primary research offering that is breaking new ground in neuro- marketing to offer clients advanced and scientific levels of insights into how their consumers engage with them across the landscape of new media channels. To learn more about OTOinsights, visit www.otoinsights.com complete one-to-one solUtIons for BranDs, agencIes, anD pUBlIshers OTOinsights is a One to One Interactive company. Established in 1997, One to One Interactive is the first enterprise to assemble a complete solution for brands, agencies, and publishers executing one-to-one marketing strategies. By bringing together one of the nation’s leading digital marketing agencies, the world’s most comprehensive portfolio of permission marketing platforms, unique performance-based social media networks, and cutting-edge neuromarketing research techniques, the companies of One to One Interactive build informed and creative customer/constituent strategies on the belief that digital media’s ability to enable engaging one-to-one dialogues is the future of marketing. To learn more about One to One Interactive, visit www.onetooneinteractive.com OTOinsights 529 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129 617.425.7300 www.otoinsights.com info@otoinsights.com Copyright © May 25, 2009, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 14