Online search advertising is on the rise in the retail sector, according to search engine giant Google Australia. Google says that the demand is in direct response to the changes in consumer spending habits around Christmas.
Online competitive intelligence agency Hitwise recently released data showing Australia’s online activity historically peaks in the week ending 25 November, and that there has been a significant move by consumers to research products they are interested in online before purchasing them in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
Industry leaders across the Australian retail market are increasingly recognising that a comprehensive online strategy is a vital component to their overall marketing mix. As a result, the industry has seen acceleration in the number of retailers utilising internet advertising to communicate with their customers.
In particular, major Australian offline retailers such as Dick Smith Electronics and Dymocks are now using Google AdWords to buy “sponsored links” on Google’s search engine, to connect with millions of consumers at the very moment they are searching for particular information.
Dick Smith Electronics is one of those retailers using AdWords for Christmas. Brent Allan, marketing director at Dick Smith Electronics says: “The internet is now playing an increasing part in the consumers’ decision-making process as they make their way through the purchasing lifecycle.
“By placing advertisements on Google’s search engine this Christmas, we are now able to put DSE range of product offerings front of mind, as consumers search for product information and a store to purchase.’’
Will Easton, head of retail, entertainment and media divisions at Google Australia, says there is a growing awareness that the internet is crucial for retail advertising.
“Surveys across the world have consistently identified that around two-thirds of consumers search online and purchase offline,” he says. “We have been working for the last six months with Australia’s largest retailers to help them develop an online strategy that enables them to use the internet to gain a competitive advantage and drive sales.”
Jeff Rogut from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies sees this as part of an international trend among leading retailers. “Multi-channel retailing is becoming more and more important for retail success as customers use multiple types of media in making their purchase decisions, including online research,” he says. “The internet represents an increasing amount of the Australian shopper’s media consumption and it should be an increasingly important part of retailers’ communication strategy.”
Easton says that the emergence of the multi-channel customer means that retailers need to be consistent across all available communication and advertising media.
“Historically the focus has been in-store and across traditional mediums such as catalogues, TV and press. As customers move online there is a real need for retailers to align their efforts accordingly,” he says.