Search Marketing Influencer Series – Kristina Sruoginis (Part 2)


Kristina Sruoginis is the Director of Digital Research at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the U.S. trade association representing over 650 leading media and technology companies responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital marketing campaigns.

Prior to joining the IAB, Kristina was the Director of Digital Research at MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo where she oversaw digital research initiatives and produced studies ranging from usability and consumer insights to qualitative ad effectiveness analysis.

Your role inside the IAB is somewhat unique. You focus primarily on consumer behavior. Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately. 

In addition to the revenue reports discussed in Part 1, the IAB publishes multiple research papers throughout the year.

Our most recent study focuses on the home improvement vertical. Results revealed that nearly 1 in 10 adults – a group characterized as educated, professional, and married with higher-than-average discretionary income – are actively planning a major home repair or renovation project. Beyond this group of actives, there is a surprisingly large swath of aspirationals in the mix as well. Of all respondents surveyed, nearly 7 out of 10 express dissatisfaction with some part of their home. The key driver pushing aspirationals into the actives category appears to be improved finances, which, in turn, creates the opportunity to take on new projects.

Either in active or aspirational project planning mode, survey results revealed that search plays a vital part in the overall home renovation process. In fact, search ranked within the top three “go to” channels consumers use most frequently for seeking out design ideas. (It even beat out TV!)

IAB Home Improvement Study - Snapshot 1 The role of search is even more pervasive once the work gets underway. Consumers seem to rely on search as a natural “next step” for taking action on their plans, especially when they’ve been exposed to ideas they like via traditional media such as magazines, direct mail, and TV.

IAB Home Improvement Study - Snapshot 3

These results strongly suggest the important dual role search plays in the home improvement process – as both an idea generator (for consumers) as well as a fully integrated part of a brand’s overall media strategy, one that also very clearly takes local into account.

The report details some unique regional and ethnic differences with regard to search. What explains some of these particular behaviors?

Even though search ranks as the No. 3 most-used channel by consumers nationwide within the home improvement space, it is actually the lead choice in southern states, most notably among Hispanics consumers, used primarily for seeking design inspiration.

IAB Home Improvement Study - Snapshot 2

In spite of a number of similarities across the various segments surveyed, an interesting difference that surfaced was that a larger percentage of Hispanic home renovators tends to skew younger. A whopping 67% of Hispanic home renovators are under the age of  45 vs. a significantly smaller 44% of the general population surveyed.

Additionally, within this Hispanic segment, there seems to be more of a “mobile-first” mindset. What this basically means is that this group of home renovators is flocking to their mobile devices first to search for products, ideas, and price comparisons before they ever step foot in-store. As you can imagine, therefore, the use of social media tends to skew higher for this segment as well, easily with half  tapping into a variety of social platforms to regularly seek and give home improvement advice.

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