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Customer Attitudes Towards Search Engine Marketing

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Published: Thu, 22 Feb 2018


The present study approaches the empathizing of the UK users’ behaviour with respect to internet when considere in presence of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and related activities, conceiving the present dynamic role of online and connected consumer who uses the internet and Web 2.0 tools like Social and Media Blogs. An online form survey, reaching up to 100 respondents actively using social network sites like “Face book”, analyzed the respondents’ social, demographic and general characteristics, their online behaviour, and their level of conflict with SEM activities. It also discovered the most democratic and the most often used internet tools. The review findings were mostly consistent with same kind of studies conducted in different regions of United Kingdom and Europe .the review of gathered data enabled to find relevant kinships between variables and equating answers through age, gender, and hours fagged on the internet. The results will give all internet marketers a degree of perceptivity into their direct users, and will allow them to make strategies to provide for the targeted segments effectively. Also, this study will give a vital point of cite for future research related to internet marketing, which will be useful believing the current trends and development of particular marketing activity. The application using PHP and MySQL was designed to get the responses from respondents. Based on the responses collected from the sample of 68, the data was found and the conclusion has been done based on this data collection. The online questionnaire was uploaded on the web on the url http://searchresults.net63.net From this URL, one can access the questionnaire and fill up personal details followed by the responses to different situations. Based on this response, the data was captured onto the database. This database (of MySQL) was helpful to fetch the details and behaviour of individuals towards different options available on the websites.

Technical Plan

This study is planned as following: Initially, an exploration of previous or existing research and the documented evidence found are placed in the literature review section (chapter 2). Following this is, an explanation of how the study was carried out, which includes research design, followed by sampling, data collection methods, the methods used  for analysis and limitations are discussed in (chapter 3). Furthermore, the answers to research interrogations are discussed in detail in chapter 4, with a systematic analysis of the survey results. The application was being designed using PHP and MySQL. The former was used as the programming language with the back end database support through MySQL. Their personal details followed by their responses to different options available on the web are analysed to have a study on their behaviour for different situations. Based on this approach, the important analysis was further explored. Lastly, the conclusion of our research is accomplished in chapter 5, where study findings are analyzed using the point of observation of their contact on additional academic or professional research, which may include practical testimonials, limitations of findings and other areas for further research.

For the purpose of my experiment I had designed a small application which counts clicks on particular links. I developed it in PHP and used MySQL database. The address of the application was located on the link that was made available online at http://searchresults.net63.net. One can easy get an access to this link to fill out the details in an easy manner. This helped in getting responses in a thorough manner. Through this approach, all the data was collected. 100 respondents were approached at initial stages. However, due to lack of response rate, it was noted that there is the need to reduce the sample size. So, I asked 68 participants to do the experiment. Mainly I sent emails to friends. I also went to University’s library and asked some people to do the experiment. Basically I gave the address to people and once they typed it in a browser. They had to chose gender, age range and how experienced internet users they are. Then there was a short description explaining what will happen.

Participants had to imagine that they are looking for a watch to buy and were given search results copied from google on a ‘buy watches’ phrase. They had to click on any link they liked. Then they had to imagine that they are looking for a new TV. Search results for ‘buy tv’ phrase were displayed and they had to click on any. Lastly they were given search results for ‘buy books’ and again they had to click somewhere. All the clicks were saved in a database. There were organic and sponsored links.

I used some simple SQL queries on myPHPadmin panel to extract the numbers.

Critical review

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or else Pay per Click (PPC) marketing and is usually known in literature as well and is one of three diverse types of online marketing. The remaining two are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Banner Advertising. Precisely what they are, and how they work and advantages and disadvantages of different techniques are talked over in detail later in this report.

Surveys conducted by EIAA i.e. European Interactive Advertising Association show the performance of European internet users and other online buyers or shoppers. As per their Online survey (for which around 7,008 people all across the Europe including UK, France ,Germany, , Italy ,Spain, the Nordics, Netherlands  and the Belgium were interviewed) Out of the total,76% of online buyers use search engines as a source of information.

This study also stated deviations between users of the UK in particular.

Before investigating the topic more closely, it is significant to define the word of SEM. Though in writing this form of marketing is frequently addressed to pay per click (also occasionally written as pay-per-click) marketing (Anderson, C., 2006).

First of all a few definitions of term, to constitute the literature and will be introduced. An accurate explanation will follow later.

Pay per click (PPC) is placement of small ads on the search outcome on a page for a precise keyword or set of keywords in return for a individual payment when a guest actually clicks particular ad (Battelle, J. ,2005)

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: A technique of marketing where a company pays

a certain sum of money each time somebody clicks on a small advertisement on a search engine‘s results page or a homepage and then takes to the advertiser‘s website (Brin, S. and Page, L., 1998).

Pay-per-click (PPC): The payment form used for patronized search advertising.

Advertisers set bid on keywords and pay in case when searchers click on the search results listing related with those keywords (Broder, A., 2002).

Pay per click advertising used for search engines can be explained most easily by following:

The placement of a small content only adverts on search result page which is activated by a particular keyword or phrase equaling typed in search box (Brooks, N., 2004a).

Pay Per Click: A performance based model of paying for online ads whereby payments are made for each click on a displayed advert, if there are no clicks then there will be no fee and is also known as CPC i.e. cost per click and CPA is known as cost per action (Brooks, N. ,2004a).

This essentially means that there exists text based advertisements and are displayed on search engine’s result page and are next to natural search listings. Such Text ads are fore grounded by the search engines with different names like sponsored links and are typically on right hand side of a result page, and is clearly distinguished from natural search results which are displayed on left. From time to time one or more than one of those advertisements are showed on top of list, over the organic search results, fore grounded through a different backdrop color. The advertising companies can then decide which key phrase or words searches performed by the search engine users and where their ad should appear (Fain, D.C. and Pedersen, J.O. ,2006).The main mechanism of a search engine marketing operation are defining of important keywords, and the bidding on keywords and a good quality written text ad through a good call to act. The advantage of such methods of advertising when compared to banner ads is to facilitate the advertiser as he has to pay only when someone in fact clicks on the advertisement, and not only for imitation, which a customer might not be able to see. Search engines can show up to 8 Text advertisements of sponsored links on one page. The order of what text advertisement is displayed and the position is defined by how much amount each advertiser is ready to pay for searched keyword. The framework of pay per click advertising is founded on a bidding system.

One of the major advantages of pay per click method is that audience is already targeted, as the people are in fact looking for something connected to the product and what company is offering(Fallows, D., 2005) .While banner advertising on other hand shows the ads to customers who may not necessarily be interested in it. They may only be interested in website where banner ad is currently displayed and may not even look at banner ad or may ignore it since they are not interested in buying anything.

In addition to this, the online marketer also has the option to target clients by country and even by area or city. This utility was published in 2004 by Google. As a result online marketing is available to nearby situated business for e.g. restaurants .Similarly international companies that want to put up for sale their products outside their region (Feng, J. ,2002).

Google also takes the possibility to show the text ads not only on their search engine results pages but also on their websites, clearly displayed as ads by Google. This utility is called as content network. The online marketer has authority on websites where his text advertisements will be shown at, particularly concerning the content. Though it is very hard for online marketer to have a influence on any other fraction of campaign. In addition, the analysis of data is not very suitable, because all parameters cannot be displayed as online marketer would like them to (Feng, J., Bhargava,2007).

A very significant topic while talking about pay per click ads is the differentiation among good traffic and bad traffic. This topic impacts mainly PPC-advertising, as the advertiser pay for every single click, while in banner advertising payment method used is pay per impression. The aim of a pay per click advertising operation is not only to make users click on advertisement and visit their advertised website, but also to attract people, who are interested in their product. While in banner advertising, advertiser needs to pay for every impression and no matter if site visitor sees the advertisement and clicks on it at PPC advertising, each click costs money. As a result of this, the text ad must not just try to draw as many clicks as feasible, but attract more clicks of people who are interested in product and are more probable to purchase the product. There are special methods to try to attain this goal, both on keyword related side and on the text ad side.

In banner advertising, only method of getting improved converting traffic is to prefer the websites, where banner ad shall be displayed very cautiously.

A danger of pay per click advertising, though, is the so called text box cecity. Internet users acquire the banner blindness following banner ads have been used on different websites frequently for number of years. The people mostly just do not realize banner ad any longer or don‘t show any interest in it at all. Banner ads are considered as a necessary evil so as to help lot of websites for offering free content. It is revered by many search engines that such a phenomenon may happen again with pay per click ads. Although the same may not happen in coming time soon, as the search engine users are really looking for something while using a search engine. They may not only read the subject of a site, and are looking for piece of information or stuff to buy or other things similar to that while using a search engine and looking at search engine results page. As a result it is very likely, that people will not actually acquire text box blindness (Greenspan, R., 2004).

According to Andrew Goodman who have stated in his work in “Winning Results with Google AdWord” that international pay per click campaigns don‘t work that well. According to him the markets are too small for converting and running PPC campaigns are waste of money (Hotchkiss, G. ,2004).Another case to second his opinion is that effort for translating keywords and text advertisement in different languages is huge. On the other hand there exist products having huge consumer base. If the resources required to translate keywords and text ads are accessible, an attempt for getting international SEM movements may be a worth. This only makes sense, when a company actually sells products in relevant (Hansen, E., 2002).

Buying key phrases in search engines entirely inspire the online advertising, as these infer the idea of Cost per Click -client of such type of advertising pays only when a visitor clicks on a precise advertisement (Carrera, 2009). Equating to SEO, PPC gives more control on visual aspect in search pages, due to amount bid and relevance of text ad (Chaffey et al., 2009). Alternatively of spending time controlling site codes and relevant contents, sellers can then pay for laying in search results (Sen, 2005).

Carrera (2009) suggests that currently, main search engines have ad schemes related to hunts (Yahoo! Search Marketing, Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter). When a particular visitor writes in search box, single or combination of  keywords, search page shows a set of sponsored links adopted by firms and organic search results, the ads are created by advertisers, with a upper limit of 25 characters in ad heading and 35 for text lines of ad and web address. As visible in Figure 2, advertisements are located in sponsored results region of searches -paid search (EConsultancy, 2008).

Though, several sources point out many a time that consumers do not see difference among organic links and sponsored, clicking in links for query but with partial content (O’Connor, 2009). In previous PPC programs, ranking of sponsored lists was founded on highest offer of cost per click for a particular keyword. But now, this is not essentially the case: search engines also need to pay attention towards relative click through rates of ads – ads having fewer clicks will cut down the listing (Sullivan, 2007). This study is part of Quality Score, a idea shared by most of the search engines, and also analysis of match between keyword and occurrence of the keyword in text, historical click by rate, the engagement of searcher while clicking on ad, and also its loading speed and significance of the associated web page (Google, 2009).

The main advantages of such an advertisement system is that it addresses the ads only to target that searched for those specific keywords, and the client only pays when users clicks on the ad. It also and allows the clients to change contents so as to the improve results, and plan the maximum amount of promotion investment and cost per click, and refine and control movements on a daily basis throughout search engine control panels (like Google Analytics). The advertisement stays online till the initial budget accomplishes the end (Google, 2009) and include the concept that PPC is very responsible, results are expected and are simpler to use in comparison to SEO, faster to get placed in search pages and branding effect. But it also has a negative side effect as well: it is highly spirited and exclusive costs per-click, scheming campaigns can be time downing, and many people will not trust ads (EConsultancy, 2008).

Therefore, the dispute of this study is to study on how UK internet users differentiates between paid search results and organic search, and how often they click such paid results.


The topic of this explore, “Examination of UK Online Consumers’ sensing and Attitudes towards Marketing governed by Search Engine in context of Web 2.0” .Firstly, we need to understand what is Search Engine Marketing and is essential for contextualization of project. Carrera (2009) and Chaffey et al. (2009) have defined Search Engine Marketing as an action that affects promoting firms with the help of online search engines, to meet marketing targets by providing relevant content to users’ and search results, thus motivating to click on particular link.

As for Search Engine Marketing Park and Kim (2008) have defined it as most measurable, strategic and governable way to build a dynamic and mutually good consumer to consumer and  also consumer to marketer communications about a certain service, product or company. It is acknowledged in field of marketing that the knowledge owned by customers, their prediction of relative conduct, and meeting expectations which is important and is key to success.

As a result, internet marketers need to understand characteristics of users and internet habits of users in order to effectively find and reach target segments (Carrera, 2009; Chaffey et al., 2009). From position of consumer marketing, study of internet users’ and their decision making process should be based upon users’ characteristics and relative online behaviour.

This study aims to critically find how UK online consumers comprehend and act in front of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and other activities, and main objectives are as follows:

  • To realize impact of internet on existing modern day marketing.
  • To look into the current circumstance of the Web 2.0 consumer, and its role on web
  • To realize the modern day internet Consumers conduct towards marketing
  • To look into key concepts related to Internet Marketing, poring specifically on SEM (Search Engine Marketing).
  • To examine the ways UK consumers comprehend SEM activities, and evaluate mental attitude towards SEM activities.
  • To suggest testimonials for further study or schemes in internet marketing context
  • During the procedure of secondary search, there are several key questions ,  which forms the foundation of form elaboration:
  • To what extent trust issues are a concern when analyzing activities for internet marketing and their effectiveness?
  • How do consumer performs searches using search engine pages and what is considered more important during the search?
  • Why internet users choose massively the organic results retrieved from a search engine page, instead of frequented links?
  • What incites internet users in forward marketing emails to their friends and other users?
  • How far consumers engage in company blogs and various social network pages?
  • How do users interact with blogs and various social network pages?

From a point of view of a user, web search engines require to provide applicable and useful results in reply to some user input, usually a query. Web search engines employ dozens of factors in knowing how to score significance and to rank the found results. Typically, the internet user has no thought what factors has lead to particular result being ranked and retrieved.

One exception to this is sponsored links. Many web search engines currently give at least two types of search listings for web Search Engine Results Page (SERP). First type of links is non sponsored list, which web search engine show with the help of proprietary algorithms (Hotchkiss, G. ,2006).

The other type of link is the sponsored list, which comes due to a bid on phrase that searcher has entered in his query. Most of the major web search engines available today present sponsored and non sponsored listings in different areas of SERP. For this one (and frequently only one

Category), searchers are informed in broader terms how these result are retrieved. Why other results are not highlighted (for e.g., anchor text, page rank)?

Certainly, the causal motivation is to highlight the economic motivation that caused the sponsored listing to come into view. Study shows that web searchers are biased against sponsored links (Hotchkiss, G., 2004). Though, assuming that web searchers wish relevant and helpful results in reply to their queries and sponsored links are as appropriate as against non sponsored results, are web search engines doing the web searchers a disservice by stressing the sponsored links so prominently?

1.1 The impact of the Internet on consumer marketing

Analyzing the internet with regards to consumer marketing is important to understand .A simple question which arises is: What factors affect Internet consumer marketing?

According to Chaffey et al. (2009) internet has enhanced marketing as first website made in 90’s was (http://info.cern.ch/) (CERN, 2008), and now, there are more than one billion users using internet regularly and the manner companies sell products or services and way consumers react has changed emphatically. Peterson et al. (1999) honor this idea, debating that World Wide Web owned maximum potential for marketing. Drawing Success in business mostly depends upon technological knowledge and further gives competitive edge and remains continuous process.

There are many authors who conceive that Internet play an important major impact on Marketing mix 4 P’s: in Product Mix, digital brought different services and products (e.g. software) and further added new features to already existing ones (Carrera, 2009). Avlonitis and Karayanni (2000) admit to the fact that internet helped the discovery of user needs, cut across and product testing; In Price Mix, Carrera (2009) expresses that there is significant reduction in costs is seen, which developed firms selling products or services at a very low price, with the use of web sites for e.g. a low-cost airlines.

Nevertheless, the customization of services and products allows companies to appoint premium price, as they abide by with buyer’s tastes and is studied in detail by (Chaffey et al., 2009); For the Place, products and services like home banking has facilitated the interaction and reduced costs in comparison to other distribution channels. Besides, the ability to continue information related to clients is much more effective than traditional transfers, dealing the Promotion, with regards to digital context and advertising adapts directly to the needs of consumers, as it collects information related to these for e.g. detection  of IP address and profile of buyer for suggestions (Carrera, 2009). Furthermore, the promotion of a service /product is now also built by C2C basis, which is very difficult to control and there are different ways to manage (Mangold and Fauls, 2009), and will be analyzed later in project.

All these elements have changed the manner consumers behave with companies, thus bringing a wider choice from all the different suppliers, and are a means to selecting and purchasing of items has turned out to be easier and faster. But for long customers are engaged and confident of this new way of marketing.

1.2 Web 2.0

A paper was published by Microsoft (2007), stating that web 2.0 is changing the internet into a powerful and authoritative medium, changing the way how society believes and behaves or reacts. The report confirms that especially social networking process is gathering people from different communities, and acting as a medium for personal reflection. This is consistent

And is in accordance with Fu et al. (2007), and is said that use of collaborative technologies leads to an extraordinarily fast growing community which is virtual, here people pass by and share their information. These authors have agreed on the fact that World Wide Web is moving towards social web, and users have an important role in all the aspects of business and remains to be the main focus in this study.

Consumers have embraced role of an important agent, who can express themselves using new tools, like wikis blogs or social networks (Carrera, 2009). In similar manner, Cheung and Lee (2009) contend that web has moved from being mere medium of information into a medium of content creation and further sharing. Chaffey et al. (2009) further gives arguments that the widespread acceptation of high speed broadband and world-wide media experiences are more and more used to absorb consumers with each other and also with companies.

More and more people discuss online and interact with products and brand campaigns, in a manner of “viral effect”. These authors are in line with Carrera’s definition, which suggests that by addition of Web 2.0 it enhances in promoting interaction and user yielded content using virtual community and participation of social network, content ratings and widgets and tagging. However, it remains to be seen is how users are willing to absorb the internet marketing campaigns and further motivates user to share the latter.

1.3 Online Consumers’ behaviour towards e-Marketing

Online users mostly don’t have physical comfort provided by offline stores and a communication which is face to face. This concept is related to security problems and stories of fraud and internet commerce (Chaffey et al., 2009). As a result, consumers look for evidence of trust on a website, which may include brand familiarity or site appearance and quality of content, site may have official recognition and other recommendations given by users. Ha (2004) completes this discussion, by excusing that consumers have grown more internet savvy, they now insist on interacting with firms they trust. Various other trust factors are also added like privacy (risk of giving personal information), security related with payment risks, navigation like fulfilling access to various kind of information and related to order fulfillment (Bart et al., 2005; Ha, 2004).

However, there are consumers who buy only on company websites: but also have other online sources, is important to purchase choice. Following the research conducted by AOL UK (2006), about 77% of all the respondents’ accord that if they read a negative review about a product on internet related, it would make them think about their purchase, 42% assumed that they had to switch and move towards a different brand. One of the most important sources for online information is the search engines, which is followed closely by websites of famous brands, price comparison websites and reviews/opinions available on internet, are written by experts, customer reviews on websites. One of the important factors is that these online sources for information reduce time spent in comparing product quality which is to be done before purchase, this is a common aspect related to offline context (Huang et al., 2009). As a result, it is important to

carry on here  that the trust factors has an important role related to consumers perceptions towards online marketing, also consumers need to reach for different sources related to information of products they want to buy.

1.4 Attitudes of Online Consumers’ Towards e-Marketing

Breitenbach and Van Doren (1998) studied five distinguished kind of internet users, which are accorded by different academics to continue valid currently (Chaffey et al., 2009):

  • organized information seekers: Those who want to get information for product or leisure, services information, that generally are not brought online
  • Unorganized information seekers: They are referred as “surfers”, and such users want to browse and change web sites using links, looks for interesting or different things and are  more expected to click on ads or banner
  • Organized buyers: Such users are usually get online to purchase something specific. Websites which compare various products have an important role in this case.
  • Bargain hunters: Users who want to get offers and promotions, so as to vindicate their investment in shopping.
  • Entertainment seekers – Such users look for complete online entertainment in various contests like puzzles ,quizzes, or games for multi-player, and lik to interact with various animated features available on web site

Recently, a study from EConsultancy (2004) found a similar classification for online consumer behaviour, stating it does not involve behaviours which are applied to various people on the basis of product or occasion; different individuals may react or behave differently. The report found the “Tracker” and the “Explorer” concept. But it needs to be explored in detail, and is the kind of consumer who don’t have any buying intention, and is exposed to internet marketing action (like Search Engine Marketing), which may result in a conversion.

1.5 Attitudes towards search engines

To conduct product or service explores, consumers mostly use search engines. These are powerful consumer tools which retrieve relevant information related to products or services. Consumers can perform quick searches which are online by simply issuing queries built up of search products or services (Kumar and Lang, 2007). However, it is very important to note that not all consumers are searching for particular products; consumers mainly want to know for information on search engines. In reality, as Smith (2009) states, Yahoo and Google’s (world’s most used search engine) objective is to retrieve relevant information related to the words queried. More so, information websites forever rank higher in comparison to profit-driven sites, continuing here an important dispute for Search Engine Marketing.

To understand this consumer search engine conduct, iProspect a Search marketing company in

(2006) carried out a research on the way consumers use search engines. The major findings were that 62% of users only look only at first page of results and ignore the rest. Aula and Rodden

(2009) accomplished this finding, by demonstrating that users assess search results very quickly and most of the times make unconscious decisions, centering mainly on first two results for a particular search as shown in (Figure 1). iProspect also expresses that when consumers do not get what they were looking for, about 41% change their search term and 82% complicate their search with other complementary words.

As for prestige, it was ascertained that about 36% consider that the firms enrolled at the top of search are best brands in market. The final feeling was that comparing with sponsored area, which is between 60% and 80% and click on natural or organic listings of search page. It remains to be searched why users mostly like organic links, and reasons behind not flicking on sponsored links.

1.6 Attitudes towards Emails

Following a analysis by Habeas (2008), irrespective of email and other internet threat concerns,

users are still and will continue to be dependent on email, irrespective of their relationships with business organization or from each one other through web 2.0 applications. The study  has revealed that nearly 69% of total users expressed concern related to email fraud scams, and many of them do not know how can they distinguish between possibly dangerous and emails that are trustable. It also showed that majority prefer firms that offer choices and content of emails.

Mintel (2008) added up users that trust emails which come from similar companies who provide relevant information with least effort. In a seminar conducted by dotMailer (2009), it was mentioned that even though the current circumstance of web 2.0 era in which consumers have the power, still email is gateway to consumers’. Users today have digital lives where every single user owns an email account (or may be more t

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