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February 17, 2009

Search Around the World

By Y.M. Ousley

Erica Schmidt (Isobar), Martin Sinner (Idealo), Andy Atkins-Kruger (WebCertain Europe), and Anders Hjorth (Outrider EMEA) are sharing their knowledge of the search landscape in various countries.

First up is Erica Schmidt, who gives an overview of the Asia Pacific search market. This presentation could probably be summarized as Countries Where Google isn't King (or Prince, or Duke, or...). China, Japan, India and Korea are the largest markets in terms of volume. Among these countries, users in Japan and Korea search most often.

There are opportunities in these markets, but the bad news is that it's not easy to compete without local partners. Each country tends to search with different expectations as well. In China, users search tends to be for free things - music, movies and entertainment. Additionally, there are government regulations to contend with that may not be clear to someone outside China. In Korea, the dominant search engine is Naver, which is similar to Yahoo! Answers. In a sign that Korean users may be accustomed to the Q&A style search, Google's Korean market share is 1.7%. Unlike the Americas and Europe, global campaigns that target Asia will likely have to include a local search engine for the largest audience.

Anders Hjorth is up next with a brief on search in Europe. For Europe, Google is search. Unlike Asia, Google has market share up to 90% in some countries. The closest competitors often see less than 1/5th of the amount of searches as Google. As it relates to the UK (and likely US as well), the most important criteria to evaluate include market size, language distance and cultural distance. Search marketing in Europe can be complex due to the variety of languages.

Martin Sinner, founder of Idealo (a German shopping comparison site), supports Anders' statement that in Europe, Google=search. In Germany, Google's share of the 3.7 billion query market is at roughly 93%. While US marketers have begun looking to social media as an alternative - or in most cases, supplement - for search, the German market doesn't have a Digg equivalent.

Since social can be a broad term, it's important to note that Sinner doesn't mention other social sites such as StudiVZ (a German site very similar to Facebook). Traffic breakdowns for Germany still indicate that social media isn't a strong enough driver of traffic to replace search.

Finally, Andy Atkins-Kruger presents Search Around the World. He focuses on the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China, which offer the greatest opportunities for emergin markets. Costs of campaigns can be lowered by targeting campaings at a city level, and using local engines that have significant market share. For example, Yandex or Baidu in Russia or China respectively, can offer lower click prices than Google.

In these emerging markets social media tends to be more important Particularly in Brazil, though sites like Orkut and Hi5 are popular in India and countries outside the US as well. Tips for targeting users in countries outside your own include targeting cities within cities, picking keywords unique to the culture, as opposed to literal translations, use of local domains, and caution not to fall into the "local is best" mentality and get discouraged from trying things which have worked in other markets.

The panel was moderated by Jon Myers of MediaVest he summed up by saying "the speakers on the panel covered off some great point and hightlight the differences across different markets. It will hopefully get the attendees to think about not one strategy suits all each country has to be looked at in its own right be it lauguage, local knowlegde or distribution for successful camapigns to by run"


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