FEBRUARY 25, 2009
Hiding in plain sight
It makes sense when you think about it. As tough times force many customers to buy less—and to be pickier about what they do buy—search is becoming ever more important to marketers.
“The recession is driving marketers to concentrate on gaining new business, even more than on customer retention objectives,” says David Hallerman, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics. “Search is the ultimate online acquisition tool, and therefore is positioned to do relatively well in this economy.”
The four basic search options are paid search, contextual advertising, paid inclusion—all three are types of advertising—and search engine optimization (SEO).
All four options will experience increased spending through 2013. By then eMarketer estimates total US search marketing outlays will surpass $23 billion.
“While paid search traditionally has gotten most of the attention and money,” says Mr. Hallerman, “as they seek to acquire new customers, marketers are increasingly turning to SEO.”
There are key differences between paid search and SEO.
“Paid search’s effects are immediate, but marketers need to spend consistently for sponsored-link ads to appear in search queries,” says Mr. Hallerman. “SEO takes time, and marketers need to constantly maintain their Websites to sustain high organic results.”
As marketers better understand the purpose of Website optimization in their overall campaigns, compared with the other three types of search marketing, SEO spending will grow at a higher yearly rate.
“Customers are going to search engines because they are looking for better deals,” says Mr. Hallerman. “And marketers are going to search engines because that’s where the customers are.”