A growing trend in advertising seems to be upon us. Like me, you'll probably have noticed we've recently been asked to "search for" at the end of TV advertising, rather than the traditional "visit our website" approach.
Some examples of this practise in UK advertising include the NHS's advert for children's nutrition and their search slogan 'Change 4 life'. Another one is the British Army's "Start Thinking Soldier campaign", where they go a step further and show this search term being typed into a search box to further drill in the message.
This trend seems to have stemmed from Japan where, according to Nominet, 35% of adverts carry an image of a search box with the required search phrase within it as a direct call to action. This has probably steadily increased since goo carried out it's survey in September 2006 asking "Which is better in TV ads: Keywords or URL?". 83% of the Japanese participants agreed keywords were preferred.
This use of advertising was also picked up on a lot when Cabel Maxfield Sasser of Panic Inc. visited Japan on business; examples of which can be seen on his blog.
What seems to be its obvious success factor is that the majority of people find it easier to remember a search term, rather than a URL; especially when it comes to remembering the domain, "was it .com or .co.uk...?".
Another area of its success, I'd imagine, comes from the way a lot of the world uses the internet. Less-savvy surfers believe search engines are the internet and they're the place to start, rather than typing a URL directly into the browser bar.
This begs the question, “Are there any success stories in the west?”. Well the only one I've found info on at the moment is one from America, through Read Write Web, where Kellogg's Special K began a campaign with the help of Yahoo!. They used their advertising to ask consumers to type "Special K" directly into Yahoo!'s search engine. As a result, this campaign produced "a 10 times better response rate than previous campaigns the company had run on Yahoo!".
So it looks like this trend is something we could be seeing a lot of, the more our marketers get to grips with the ever-fiddly issue of combining online and offline communications. I'll certainly be pitching it to my lot back in the office!