Online classifieds site Gumtree, supermarket giant Coles and web auctions leader eBay have all topped lists of Australia’s most popular Google searches for brands and ads in 2012.
The revelation comes as Google continues its Zeitgeist report series, which list the year’s most popular searches in a variety of categories, forming a snapshot of Australia’s favoured trends, products and social developments through 2012.
But marketing and advertising experts say SMEs shouldn’t necessarily take a top position on the list as a badge of honour. Brand expert and consultant Michel Hogan points to the fact Coles topped the list of “top searches for ads” with its “prices are down” ads – a marketing effort that was mostly panned by the industry.
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“We have to be careful, because the reason people might be searching for something online isn’t necessarily because they think it’s good,” she says.
“The Coles ads have been some of the most annoying ads all year.”
Hogan says there’s a gulf between the actual quality of the ads and their online popularity. She points to the recent Metro Trains “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign, which has been hailed a success, but appears nowhere on the list.
“Now, what’s interesting there is that I don’t think most people would be searching for that. I think the viral stuff like that has links thrown around on social media, and that’s how people find it.”
“Whereas this list is all about Google, and what’s popular there. The true viral stuff, people don’t need to search for.”
But Michelle Gamble of Marketing Angels says it doesn’t necessarily matter why people are searching for it – as long as it’s effective.
“The Coles ad is horrible, but it works. What is good is not always effective. If you think of the Harvey Norman ads with all the yelling and so on, they work. They have people remember the brand.”
“The lesson here is to understand that what you do offline really impacts on what you do online, because people will still search for your brand name to find things.”
The biggest surprise on the list is Gumtree, which has come out of nowhere to become the most searched-for brand in Australia. Meanwhile, job search site SEEK also debuted on the list at number five.
Hogan says it’s a clear indication that Australia is undergoing economic turmoil – or at least that people believe the domestic economic situation to be dire. She also points to the Commonwealth Bank “can” ads, which managed to gain a large amount of traction.
Overall, Hogan says, to get on the list you’re probably going to spend a lot of money – most of the ads and brands are known for their high production values.
“The sure-fire way to get on this list? Do an annoying or controversial ad, or a big production.”
“There’s not an ad on this list that doesn’t have a big production cost.”
The Zeitgeist list for most popular ads and brand searches in 2012: