Companies in North America will spend $23 billion in search engine marketing in 2012, up 19% compared with the previous year -- but search marketers have new concerns this year, according to the State of Search Marketing Report 2012.
The Econsultancy report, released with help from SEMPO, estimates a 13% growth rate for search marketing in 2013. Some 58% of respondents predict rising budgets in paid search and 55% in SEO this year. The vast majority of those who are not increasing budgets are keeping them roughly the same. Meanwhile, 17% will decrease spending in paid search, and 11% in SEO, according to the study.
Nearly 90% of search marketers rate the trend of mobile Internet use as significant or highly significant, and many are concerned with a lack of analytics. Agencies, with a broader focus than individual companies, are somewhat more concerned with the rise of local search.
Budgets remain healthy, but search marketers point to changes in Google's algorithm, confusing cross-channel attribution models, lack of mobile analytics, and retaining talent as some of the biggest concerns for 2012.
Some 87% call Google's algorithmic updates during the last 18 months "significant or highly significant." The report notes that in most cases marketers view the changes as positive, but success in combating SEO spam sites can come at the expense of many legitimate brands.
Although the Google algorithm has been the most immediate concern, the integration and measurement of multiple channels continues to be a challenge, as marketers look for greater understanding of the total impact from all search-related channels.
Search professionals are concerned with integration and attribution. In fact, 34% are concerned with integration and measurement with other online and offline marketing channels this year, compared with 29% in 2011. Similarly, 29% find it more challenging this year to get budgets for paid-search efforts, compared with 24% last year.
This 2012 SEMPO report includes 883 respondents from 36 countries across a variety of sectors from both B2C and B2B.