Private: LinkedIn Post

Reading your responses it’s clear we all looked at the images in the search result. We completely ignored the top 4 paid search result spots. This is both a problem for the advertiser (who is spending top dollar for these spots) and a testament to the power of visuals (our remarkable human processes visuals 58,000x faster than text).

What’s also interesting is that most of us first noticed the non-traditional fan images on the extreme right column. The one I fixated on was extreme right image in middle row:

What’s relevant to this discussion is that the non-traditional fan images we focused on are NOT Big Ass Fans. Even though I was doing a targeted branded search term (Big Ass Fans) once the search results appeared the brand name didn’t matter, the search intent did (air circulation fans). This is a big detail.

Our brain’s fascination with unexpected things (in this case the two strange shaped fans) is incredible. For me, the sway was so strong I didn’t notice anything else.

The mistake marketers make is that if the sales of those 2 odd shaped fans are low they will be dropped from this placement. I think that’s a bad call. These eye-catching items are called anchor products and their job is the pull the curious browsers in (in this case build.com). It’s unlikely buyers will ultimately buy these oddly shaped fans (Big Ass Fans doesn’t make these shapes) but once they’re on build.com it’s 20% more likely they’ll stay on build.com (and likely buy some product there).

So instead of looking at the # of units of anchor products sold the metric I’d look at how many $$ dollars in overall sales they generated on my site (irrespective of what was ultimately purchased, which will likely be a more traditional fan). The key goal for Build.com is to take someone looking for Big Ass Fans, apply a Jedi mind trick, and make them forget all about Big Ass Fans. And to do this without marketing a discount tag.

Would love to hear your thoughts on my thesis. Please comment below ...

7 comment

7 Replies to “Private: LinkedIn Post”

  1. I’ve seen Shopping campaigns do well when you use a Custom Label to identify an attribute–like color–that might affect CTR, even if it doesn’t have any other effect. If the gray garment does okay, maybe the bright blue version catches more attention, right? Many of these even had the same landing page (with another variant selected).

    You should be able to detect these kinds of magnet products based on their performance within the campaign, as long as they’re being surfaced to begin with. All roads lead to Value per Click, after all.

    1. Roy: If the gray garment does okay, maybe the bright blue version catches more attention, right? Many of these even had the same landing page (with another variant selected).
      Rishi: Yes, that would work too. But the magnetic power of unexpected shapes is so powerful (even if people will not actually buy them). CTR is a really important and often underappreciated metric.

  2. Eye catching does not always result in conversions. I may search for fans, but see a totally unrelated image for a 4K TV. It grabs my attention, and may even result in a click-through, but again, most likely it will not result in a conversion (sale). I’m always amazed at the human mind, and apparently, how easily distracted we are!

    1. Hi, Jim. Valid point about how eye-catching doesn’t always work. A big part of our browsing/shopping behavior is subconscious. We actually can’t even articulate our desires (Dr. Eric Von hippel). In that subconscious mode the “anchor product” can play a role. But this is just a theory for me at this point. I’ll be running more A/B tests to better understand it. Thanks for your input.

      1. Yeah, I work around that risk by using Revenue per Thousand Impressions (RPM) as my main ad copy metric. That way, changes in CTR and CR are accounted for, and the three-letter-acronym is a good one. 🙂

  3. Rishi, I think you are asking two questions? Well maybe not. You asked what catches my eye? Not what makes me convert…two entirely different goals. My eye was caught FIRST (before I was thinking) by the darker fan (likely due to the difference in contrast) SECOND by the series of cool fan images…I personally NEVER considered the copy and or type, but I didn’t type in the search text, so I didn’t have the context, or mindset that would come along with that act. So while valueable to gauge the eye track…to go much further, I’m not sure this test is accurate.

    1. Right, I just wanted to know what caught your eye. I didn’t consider the copy either when I saw the result set. Thanks for your input.

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