Will Display Overtake Search?
It is helpful to understand why display advertising is growing so rapidly.
Rise of a biddable ecosystem for display. Yahoo's Right Media and Google's Ad Exchange have led the way in creating an environment where advertisers can bid in an open exchange environment for inventory based on its value to them. The subsequent introduction of real-time bidding and DSPs has only accelerated the adoption of display advertising by performance marketers.
Rise of online video advertising. Consumers are engaging with brands on the internet in ways that were traditionally reserved for offline media. Online video and rich media are seeing huge growth due to the intersection of user adoption and technology growth trends.
Adoption of attribution technologies that allow impact of display to be better represented. For performance-based marketers, the shift from display advertising to search advertising 10 years ago was precisely because the measurable return on investment of search was much higher. That is not always the case anymore, for multiple reasons. First, consumer behavior is changing in ways that allow for the entire purchase funnel to occur online, which naturally leads consumers to interact with more types of ads. No less important, though, is the adoption of technologies that allow advertisers to measure and attribute the impact of all the media touch points that ultimately lead to a conversion.
Brand budgets. More brand ad budgets are shifting to online. Display and video are more natural fits than search marketing for most brands.
Mobile. Mobile Internet access is undoubtedly an uber-trend. Mobile devices are inherently better suited for passive viewing of ads (display) than proactive viewing of ads (search).
Opportunities/Threats for Search Marketers
All of the trends listed above are only accelerating. To be clear, none of these trends threaten search marketing as it exists today. What it does threaten is the dominance of search marketing in the broader online marketing industry. I have often said that search marketers have the best skillset for the convergence of digital marketing channels. It's time to put that skillset to use and look over the horizon a bit. Search marketers need to understand the trends that are happening around them in other online marketing channels so they can better manage the digital marketing opportunities holistically for their clients.