It’s been exciting to witness the impact that the Internet has had on media as well as consumer journeys. A large part of my time at work goes into defining the ultimate mix of activities/investments behind own, bought and earned media (from a digital perspective). From a search perspective, own/bought/earned media can be defined as SEM (paid/performance media), SEO (own media optimization) and SMO (earned/social media optimization). All of these activities, in my opinion, are working media. Recent studies have shown that 80% of internet sessions start with a search of some kind. Searching as such has undergone a huge transformation, evolving from the “linear” search engine search triggered by a particular need, to “real time web” searches/feeds, which instantaneously tap into your own social networks and contact base. Depending on the industry (physical goods), percentages of consumers referring to online sources at some stage of their purchase decision, can be as high as 91%. If nearly 80% of these internet sessions start with a search of some kind, capitalizing “on the search window” becomes immensely important. However, albeit being interesting and extremely relevant within digital environments, it got me and some colleagues thinking further about the whole relevance that ties everything back to the “real world”.
My point being: SEM, SEO and to some degree even SMO are practices that emerge from the world of the PC based Internet. PC’s don’t know exactly where you are, who you are and what friends are around you. From a business perspective, you’re trying to capitalize on overall traffic interested in your brand based on keywords, but you can’t filter it down to a time/context specific grid. It’s challenging to sell a product online that a consumer needs at 8:45 Pm in West Helsinki. (Finnish stores stop selling beer after 9pm) Mobile devices allow you to do this. This brings along an entirely different type of ecosystem for brands to optimize against. A consumer searching for Adidas sneakers in downtown Manhattan, becomes a “golden lead” for any retailer that happens to operate a shoe business within that proximity area. Your virtual experience leads to a physical experience, which we all know is much more personal, intimate and (yes), social. Brands start seeing direct correlations between digital media and its attribution to physical sales. A topic argued over in several instances and forums.
While efficient SEM/SEO/SMO allows you to grasp the global internet population around the topic, you can’t tie it to an instant need that is time/context sensitive. Mobile devices will bring along an entirely new kind of media practice, which one could label as social location optimization, or as SLO just to add another abbreviation 🙂