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Creating a “Zero Moment of Truth”: Maximizing Search Opportunity in CPG

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Posted by Ali Manning, Industry Analyst for CPG

At Google, we view search as a “database of intentions”; for the CPG marketer, consumer search behavior reveals different moments during which we can connect with consumers who tell us (by typing into a search box) their varying levels of interest in our products. It’s up to us to connect with our customers at these “Zero Moments of Truth” (ZMOTs) and it can be helpful to understand how these align with the “CPG search universe”, especially because most CPG marketers don’t maximize this opportunity to reach customers through search.

Almost all CPG marketers have search ads that appear for their “brand” terms. That’s excellent. If someone asks about your brand, you should be there to answer.

But if we confine ourselves to just covering brand searches, we’re only reaching consumers who are self-identifying as being aware of our brand. We’re leaving out a big piece of the search pie.

Some CPG marketers expand search coverage to Product-related searches, an intuitive extension of standard search marketing efforts. Again, this is a great step—anyone who searches for a particular company's product should get the relevant brand message. But what about the users who are showing a high likelihood of interest in a product (and thus, potentially a particular brand), but are saying so indirectly?

These consumers are searching what we call Category & Association terms—searches that signal “I might be in the market for your product”, without having said just that.

For example, below is what the “search universe” looks like (scaled to actual search audience sizes) by Association, Category, Product and Brand for a moisturizer brand advertiser.

Source: Google Insights for Search
(note: these are searches for each set of terms related to ‘skiing’, ‘dry skin’, etc, which is independent of the advertiser’s search coverage)

Reaching a consumer across Association and Category searches increases the opportunity to reach potential customers in multiples, and each of these connections could create a Zero Moment of Truth. Which, in turn, can grow the demand for products and brands in a particular CPG category.
How does the CPG marketer connect with these consumers? That’s an “easy” one-two punch:
1. Relevant Content
2. Relevant Messaging (dependent on #1)
Of course, the opportunity to expand the universe might depend on the time of year (as it would for skiing):

Source: Google Insights for Search

What is most interesting is if we zoom into the other three sets of terms, they generally follow the same seasonal trend as skiing, which backs up the idea that all of these sets are touch-points to reach a consumer at (or create!) a zero moment of truth:

Source: Google Insights for Search

However, notice that searches for brand xyz remain nearly flat while the related searches for the Product (“moisturizer”), Category (“dry skin”) and Association (“skiing”, above) soar. It’s likely that this advertiser isn’t capitalizing on the search opportunity across these other sets, and so consumers aren’t being reached by Brand XYZ’s message, and aren’t, in turn, increasing their searches for Brand XYZ. These gaps are an opportunity for Brand XYZ to generate interest and demand in its products by creating a ZMOT through search.