Sears, Roebuck and Company was founded in 1892 and one of the most iconic retailers in US history filed for bankruptcy protection in October. The Sears catalog was a staple in many households during much of the 20th century. Unfortunately they never seemed to really move beyond the catalog. The retailer has been on a steady decline for over a decade and this analysis by Adthena suggests their inability to adapt played a strong role in their ultimate demise. It’s no surprise that Amazon has been taking market share away from brick-and-mortar retailers but the Adthena analysis clearly illustrates how poorly Sears competed in the digital marketing age. During the year leading up to Sears’ bankruptcy, Amazon and Walmart took 44% of paid clicks. Sears share was 0.7%. Also interesting, on the search terms that Sears were advertising on, Amazon had a 169% impression share (meaning shoppers were more likely to find Amazon when making searches on terms Sears were advertising on). In addition, Amazon had nearly 100% overlap on search terms used by Sears. The article goes on to share additional data points but all clearly show that Sears clearly missed the digital revolution. Rest in peace.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pretty technical for the introductory marketing course. We typically mention to students that there are some technical ways to improve a firm’s listing in the organic search results. One reason to stay away from this topic is because the state-of-the-art for SEO is constantly on the move. This article “How ‘What Time is the Super Bowl?’ Explains the Future of Internet Search” (Slate, January 31, 2013) provides some indication of where SEO has been — and where it might be going next. The article highlights the growing importance of mobile search. I tend to forget the importance of mobile search — as most of my searches are conducted at my desktop. But many consumer purchasing searches occur on mobile devices — and more will be in the future. As this article points out, being at the top of search results will only grow in importance.
You may find a way to use this article or these examples in class. I have no suggestions there — because I am not sure how to use the specific examples. Rather, I think that it serves as a reminder of how fast things are changing — and the growing role of mobile in digital advertising and marketing strategy.