Search Reshaping The Advertising Business

Search advertising comprises roughly half of online advertising, and Google is the world's most profitable and revolutionary media company. Sure, we all know that.

But what's not blatantly acknowledged is how search-engine marketing DNA is expanding to new channels,  heavily influencing the evolution of the entire media landscape.

And that is the theme of an anticipated panel at Search Insider Summit (occurring the day this column publishes). I'm excited to participate in this discussion with:  Matthew Greitzer, vice president of search marketing, Razorfish; Rob Griffin, senior vice president, U.S. director of search & analytics, Media Contacts US; and Gary Milner, global marketing director, Lenovo.

In preparation, I summarized some of the big areas where I see search advertising DNA leaving a broad footprint in the media and advertising business. Here they are:



1. In this down economy, search is leading marketing's overall flight to performance. This was boldly noted in Zenith Optimedia's latest advertising forecast. The firm said Internet advertising, which will account for a 12% share of ad spend in 2009, will be the only medium to see growth this year. That's because of Internet advertising's (mainly search's) accountability and innovation in formats.

2. The prominence of search in a down economy advances the philosophy of goal-based advertising. The idea of defining very specific advertising outcomes and successes, with assigned economic values, and proper conversion tracking, is gaining steam. While search advertising offers perhaps the most complete economic visibility of any advertising investment, it is heightening expectations elsewhere.

3. Search is driving expectations of continuous optimization to maximize profitability. It's helping to shift marketing models and media investments from set-launch-and-forget to ongoing cycles of sense-and-respond.

4. Search is driving more sophisticated, dynamic models to understand the contribution and interplay of multiple media channels and investments. Many call this attribution. Search DNA brings more sophisticated analytics that raise the bar.

5. Search is influencing demand for more efficient and transparent marketplaces of media inventory. The notions of "premium inventory" and "scarcity" are dying, while dynamic and auctions are thriving. Search advertising supports the thesis of self-serve advertising platforms, and applies scrutiny to the value of middlemen -- in every medial channel.

6. Search has been extremely successful in creating advertising that first serves the needs of users, while avoiding disruption and annoyance. Publishers and advertisers that deliver advertising which are highly valued and desired by users will become far more competitive.

7. Major traditional media businesses recognize that search advertising is a new revenue opportunity to augment their receding business lines. If you're a newspaper, broadcaster or online publisher, why not resell search advertising? The infrastructure is in place today, and many traditional media companies are experiencing success, especially serving local, small and midsize advertisers.

8. From an R&D perspective, search is heavily influencing the foundation of tomorrow's advertising technology platforms. You can see it among several of the most promising start-ups, as well as within the ivory tower of Google. At our own startup, Clickable, search is our foundation but not our destination.

How do you see search DNA impacting the broader marketing and media landscape?

2 comments about "Search Reshaping The Advertising Business".
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  1. Dan Ortega from Hyperdyme Systems, May 8, 2009 at 12:04 p.m.

    The problem search is going to start running into is that most of the rich media content that is being created in settings like social networks is not set up to follow any sort of classification schema, there is no categorization impertative like DITA applied to UGC, as a result, a lot of the vast content that is being generated by sites like Facebook is going to become increasingly harder to find. Advertising dispaly as a result of search is fine, but it's a reactive process, what advertisers need is to reach consumers proactively, and with serendipitous information. The two things that make that possible are categorization schemas, and behavioral targeting, both of which are lagging behind search in terms of momentum.

  2. John Nardone from [x+1], June 4, 2009 at 10:45 a.m.


    You make some great points in your article, especially regarding the trend towards a flight to performance marketing in a down market, and how search has transformed the traditional purchase funnel into a continuous cycle with multiple points of entry.

    I would add that search-driven performance marketing can be continually optimized based on behavior and response, and that with high consideration purchases, even brand marketing can be performance (or ROI) based with the right digital emphasis. Also, this trend toward a purchase cycle shifts the focus to the website and landing pages, where advertisers need to utilize tools that will help them collect and leverage the right data and manage the customer experience, in order to give each visitor a rich, tailored experience that pushes the response button.

    I recently made a presentation on this same topic at the Forrester Marketing Forum, which can be viewed here:

    John Nardone

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