Gmail in Google search results: Marketers will have a data gap to plug

By Adam Bunn | 23 Aug 2012

Google has announced a trial which will enable people using the search engine to see search queries feature results from their Gmail account. The search giant also said it is extending Google Knowledge Graph to every English speaking country. If rolled out permanently the former would have some drawbacks for marketers data-wise and, whilst it could be viewed as an opportunity from an email marketing perspective, that would be highly dependent on message retention. The Knowledge Graph meanwhile will benefit retailers, brands and digital marketers.

Gmail in search results will make site visit data tricky to track - Marketers will need to seek out marketing technology solutions that will help plug the data void

In terms of the impact of Gmail integration on search as we know it, there will start to be cases where Google searches will surface relevant emails the searcher has forgotten about that end up winning the click at the expense of advertisers and sites that rank in the ordinary search results.

For example, if a friend of mine has sent me an email recommending a particular restaurant to try, and that email appears on the right hand side of the search results the next time I type "restaurants in London", then it seems likely I'll at least consider re-reading that recommendation rather than clicking on one of the normal search results. This will also encourage people who currently go digging around in their Gmail accounts for information, to perform a Google search instead, as in the "my flights" example that is being discussed currently

Over time, this should increase the share of Google users who stay logged in when searching; this will make personalised search a bigger deal, and swell the number of visits to sites that can't be tracked to the keyword level due to logged in users appearing as "not provided" or similar in Google analytics.

However, this can be plugged by utilising marketing technology solutions, such as Hydra's One Platform, which can transform real-time unstructured 'big data' into actionable intelligence; uncovering opportunities to achieve optimal performance.

With 'personalisation' in search growing, it is key for marketers and brands to focus on how well they engage with customers

Whilst Gmail in Google search results may be perceived as an opportunity for email marketing, it would be heavily dependent on people retaining the message.

It's pretty obvious that email marketing can jump on this as an opportunity. But how likely is it that your email will stay in someone's inbox to appear later in their search results if they don't know and like your brand, something that needs to be created and supported offline and online with digital PR, social media engagement, natural and paid search presence?  Equally as unlikely that someone will have recommended your restaurant, I'd bet.

Either way, with personalisation of one sort or another growing on all fronts, the reaction of marketers should be - how well am I engaging with my customers and potential customers across all channels? 

The expansion and roll out of the Knowledge Graph bodes well for marketers

The expansion and roll out of the Knowledge Graph is also important. Boiled down, the "Knowledge Graph" is a glorified version of "related searches", except Google has a smarter way of interpreting what is related to your original query such that the related results are broader and more intelligent. Furthermore, they are (or will be) displayed even more prominently than they have been to date in the new carousel format.

What matters about this development is that the things Google puts in the carousels are links to further search results; this move is actually reasonably good for marketers, since before the introduction of the carousel, the related results were below a mini wikipedia-esque listing (see below). Now it seems likely they will be somewhat more prominent. This is useful because it, in theory, broadens the search patterns of users giving marketers who focus on targeting a broad array of related keywords more opportunities to gain traffic from Google.

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