Some 45% of search marketers participating in Omnicom's Resolution Media and Forrester Research study, to be released Thursday, have run paid search or search engine optimization (SEO) programs for more than three years. But many still use basic metrics to measure campaign success. About 53% of respondents manage their SEO programs internally, either with no proprietary tool or purchased tools, and 47% do the same for paid search.
As campaigns become more complex, brand marketers will lose their edge.
The joint study aims to determine trends, marketers' view on the future of search, and gauge their preparedness to face the future, said Erica Barth, VP of products and partnerships at Resolution Media. "We saw social and video results serve up in search results," she said. "Now we see search making its way into other channels."
The study segmented the level of search marketing into four groups. Level 1 marketers suffer mostly from budget and staff limitations, and they have limited access to technology. Some 54% of respondents fall into Level 2, which indexes higher in financial services. Level 3 are mature search marketers who indicate a progressive attitude toward technology. Only 4% of respondents that fall into Level 4 have well-integrated programs and measurement systems.
Barth said search marketers need to prepare for the changes.
The study suggests that search marketers don't typically rely on search for its intended use. It shows that most marketers use search to drive sales and leads, yet 69% of respondents said search works best for increasing site traffic and 57% use it to raise brand awareness.
Search marketers will need to step up their skills and approaches to campaigns as engines begin acting as concierges, and governments regulate consumer data. Some 76% of survey respondents expect search engines will become answer engines. Engines have already begun to turn lists of Web links into content curators.
Search campaigns will require multiple media types, such as Facebook, Yelp or Gowalla and Twitter. Consumers will access information in real-time through status and social updates, as well as recommendations.
The act of searching will also integrate into physical objects other than desktops, smartphones and tablets. TV programming became searchable through a simple interface. The study suggests that brands should prioritize measurement, applying more interactive tools, reach out to agencies when applicable, and dedicate resources to experiment.