NEW DELHI: For many consumers in many countries, a purchase journey begins online with search, but India is not really “search-first”, according to a Google executive, who reports that consumers there are more likely to start with YouTube.

And brands need to respond appropriately, Igor Liskovets, Google’s director for Online-to-Offline and Calls Solutions, told Afaqs!

“Advertisers do now see that more and more retail sales are due to online influence,” he said.

And they are willing to experiment in India’s ever-expanding online environment, he added. “Brands here are looking to effectively catch up to rapid growth, whereas the West is more about changing patterns in consumer behaviour,” he suggested.

When Ford partnered with Google for a study, for example, it found that eight in ten customers coming into its showrooms in India had come via an online route – this despite the auto category’s investment in traditional media.

At the same time they had already narrowed their choices down to two, where a few years ago they might have spent a whole weekend doing multiple test drives.

Google has launched its Store Visits measurement tool in India in order to help advertisers quantify how many people who saw or clicked on an ad went on to visit a store within a certain time frame.

“It could be 30 days for a car, seven days for a toothbrush, but the idea that this can now be measured enables advertisers to ask more questions,” Liskovets explained.

“For example, one customer could have come in from a discount campaign, another via a new product campaign. You can also figure campaign-related weekend/ weekday sales, as well as separate first-time visitors to the site versus existing customers,” he elaborated.

While YouTube might generally trump search, there are occasions when only search will do – Pizza Hut tapped into this when it created a hyper-local approach to marketing to reach hungry people near its restaurants.

And Google has a tool here for advertisers as well, enabling them to bid more for users within a close distance of a store.

“When someone does a search, and is 2km from your store, we can measure how many ended up there,” Liskovets said. “Brands want to ‘win that moment’.”

Sourced from Afaqs!; additional content by WARC staff