Thursday, January 10, 2008

Survey: Search Pros Managing Massive Budgets Have Little Experience

by Tameka Kee, Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 8:00 AM ET

ABOUT A THIRD OF ALL in-house search pros are managing budgets of more than $200,000 per month--and some 40% of these budget bigwigs have three years of experience or less, according to stats from the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization's (SEMPO) inaugural In-House SEM Salary Survey.
"The $200K monthly spend is a healthy barometer of the search marketing industry and it syncs up with SEMPO's current trend projections that SEM spending will double by 2011, to more than $18 billion," said Duane Forrester, co-chair of SEMPO's In-House SEM Committee and Lead SEO Program Manager with Microsoft. "We anticipated a lower ceiling of monthly spend closer to the $100,000 range, so we were pleasantly surprised."

While the survey results show that marketers are pumping dollars into search, they also highlight the need for search to mature as an industry. Just about a third of respondents managing $200,000+ budgets had between three and five years of experience, and 26% had five years or more.

This lack of relatively tenured in-house search pros is what allows the more experienced practitioners to command six-figure salaries, as 21% of those with between three and five years of experience were bringing in at least $100K annually--and 26% of respondents with five or more years of experience clocked in over $200K per year. In contrast, just 8% of respondents with three years of experience or less were making at least $100K. Roughly half of all of these less-tenured in-house search pros earned between $30K and $50K.

According to Rob Crigler, co-chair of SEMPO's In-House SEM Committee and director of interactive marketing for Orkin, the salary spread is evidence that the search industry already is maturing--as candidates will often have to manage large budgets and deliver results before gaining a title and the salary that comes with it. "You can't just be a hotshot search geek and think you're going to walk in to a six-figure in-house job off the street," Crigler said. "That might have been the case a few years ago, but you have to pay some dues now."

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