It quickly happens to marketers that they only reduce online search to metrics and data without considering their actual impact on people. The fact is that online search has fundamentally redefined the way we search and use information. It has become so relevant and important that the question arises whether users can still live without it today. To find out, we did a little research and spoke to a number of experts. Our findings reveal the deeper meaning of search in people’s lives, as well as its important, strategic role for brand companies that want to get in touch with these people.
Could you do three days without searching online?
This seemingly simple challenge was the focus of the study that we conducted with some common online search users. The idea came to us in discussions with digital anthropologists, behavioral psychologists and producers of digital content. In particular, the following statement by Dr. Alice Marwick made us think:
“I almost have the feeling that online search has become as important as water or oxygen. People need it, they can’t survive without it, but in most cases it is taken for granted or people don’t realize how important it is until it is no longer available. ”
Is that correct? If yes why?
To find out, we launched an ethnographic research project in which 18 search engine users in the United States documented when, how, and why they used search in their normal daily routines. We also asked a few, not to use the online search three days and let us know how the was for her.
Even more interesting than the question of what happened is why it happened. What is behind the behavior that we have documented? In this article, we would like to elaborate on this question and the associated profound effects for marketers.
Why we search online
Google enters 100 billion online searches every month. So we know a lot about what people do when they search online, and where , when, and how they search. We make a lot of this information available to the general public on our Google Trends website , the Databoard website with various studies and in our annual Zeitgeist reports . This valuable data shows user trends at the macro level.
But the what, where and when the online search is not all. In order to recognize the full performance and potential of online search, one has to answer the question why . This study focused on exactly that. It was also about finding out the motivation behind the online search.