Monday, July 24, 2006


The government can't just look up to see if the sky is blue: it has to form a committee and hire somebody to research and report to it.

Thus the need for a poll to find out that people like to google the government:

The federal government recently paid a little more than $65,000 to The Strategic Counsel, a Toronto-based polling firm, for a report that told them people use such popular search engines as Yahoo, Lycos, Alta Vista and Google to find Web sites.

The not-too-surprising information was provided in a final report completed in March after the firm was asked by Health Canada to test "the impact and recall of vanity URLs." (URL is short for "universal resource locator" and is a standard way of giving sites on the Internet a unique address.)

The report, written after 32 two-person discussion groups held in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Calgary, dismissed the use of Internet addresses such as with obvious names because people still have trouble remembering them despite their handy handles.

"There is minimal to no recall of URLs given the dependence on search engines. During the course of these groups, most searching was done through a search engine, felt to be by far the easiest way to find whatever one is looking for," the report's executive summary concluded.

"Even when given the actual URL, a number of participants called it up through the search engine."

Anyone could have told you that. But then it wouldn't be on paper for the public servants to cover their asses with.


Toronto Tory said...

People at my company waste money on meaningless focus groups, etc. too. It's so annoying.

Matt said...

I could have told em that for $20,000

balticdave said...

Read the whole also found a few useful things from a marketing POV, namely that "vanity" URL's such as gosmokefree are no better remembered than any other government site, and that most web users forget the .gc extension used by the government. All of this shows that the (mostly previous) government's web strategy does not appear to be connecting with Canadians...

Which I also could have told them for less than the $65000 fee, but that is still money reasonably well spent, and certainly a far cry from the implication made in the story's headline.

Dave said...

One thing the report didn't mention; the techno idiots running federal websites are notorious for changing the website structure on a regular basis. Your bookmarks are generally good for only 2-3 months, so you HAVE to use google to find stuff.