As untapped markets go, Google thinks b-to-b is the next frontier. And the king of search is working hard to capitalize on that opportunity with a full lineup of services, including search, display, video and mobile advertising.
“We think there's a seismic shift in how much b-to-b buyers and sellers are using the Web,” said Mike Miller, Google's industry director-business and industrial markets. In “The Evolving Path of Today's B2B Buyer,” a study it commissioned with Compete, Google found that 88% of b-to-b companies are using the Internet to research business purchases, up almost 24% from 2011.
Search engines are the No. 1 source for b-to-b information, the study found, with 90% of respondents using them for research, followed by brand sites (74%). Google's growth backs up those findings: Its 2012 revenue was up 32% from 2011. Google continues to account for about two-thirds of search queries, according to comScore.
“We try to make Google standard,” said Kevin Arsham, VP-account director at TargetCast. “We know that audiences are most receptive to information when they're searching for business information.” While someone might not click on an ad that comes up in a search result, it still serves to reinforce the brand, he said, adding, “You want to go in there to be part of the conversation.”
With its AdMob mobile sales unit, Google also fits in well with a multiscreen strategy, Arsham said, because it customizes content for various platforms.
Miller said Google's study confirmed that mobile can't be ignored: 61% of people interviewed said they use their mobile devices at the office, and 57% said that if a marketer doesn't provide a good mobile experience, they would not recommend that company.
Video usage is also skyrocketing; comScore reported that video ad views reached an all-time high of 13.2 billion in March. Google's YouTube.com was the leader in unique viewers, with 153.9 million.
Miller said Google is helping businesses monetize their video offerings through a holistic approach. “Search is obviously an anchor,” he said, adding that by combining it with its other offerings such as its display ad network, Google is able to build brand and awareness and, ultimately, help advertisers connect with customers.
“You need to look at Google as an ecosystem,” said Alex Jacobs, VP-director, social media, at Digitas San Francisco. “It's entrenched in the digital experience across all screens."