I have been in London all week. Between my client visits, prospect pitches, and pints at the pub I have had some time to think about the future of search. There is nothing like a change of scenery to put things in perspective. I am convinced that there has never been a more exciting time for search marketers. As the lines between search, social and display media fade, advertisers, agencies and marketers face a new kind of challenge -- one that search marketers are uniquely suited to solve.
Clients' increased interest in Facebook and renewed interest in display are great examples of this evolution. EMarketer predicts that $1.28 billion will be spent by advertisers this year on Facebook! Strong growth statistics for social and display advertising do not signal a reduction in opportunity for the search marketer. In fact, this signals a further shift in advertising dollars moving away from traditional media, presenting an opportunity for social and display markets to grow alongside the backbone of search.
Search marketing has grown into the largest share of digital marketing. It has always been a unique beast compared to other forms of digital media due to the fact that it is an auction-based, highly trackable medium with instant gratification. It takes a distinctive analytical skill set to be good at search marketing relative to other more "traditional" forms of digital media. Industry trends over the past year are changing this paradigm for the other digital media channels, and I believe we are finally at a tipping point.
Much research and comment about search's relationship with display have been published in recent years. Recently, advances in technology have allowed the benefits of display to be more closely aligned to those used in search. This trend has presented new ways of managing display and providing clear metrics with predictable results. The rise of demand side platforms allow improved performance and ROI for an online display campaign by creating a single system that connects to multiple ad exchanges and other media suppliers. Advances in technology allow advertisers to aggregate and bid on inventory of multiple publishers and ad networks. This can happen in real time on a per-impression basis.
Traditional display advertising has always focused on delivering the right message to the right customer.However, real-time bidding now allows advertisers to target display audiences with greater levels of specificity. It allows bidding on impressions based on key factors such as demographics and behavioral profiles. The result is the advertiser can target customers with the right message, at the right cost, and at the right time.
Advertisers have better transparency, efficiency, and accountability for their online media campaigns than ever before. The efficiency can be very similar to a search campaign, with similar skill sets required to be successful. Hence, combined with search management platforms, a new digital optimisation ecosystem is born.
I predict that, due to advances in technology and the evolution of the industry, performance display, paid search, and Facebook ads (biddable media) will be managed and optimized by the same team within a majority of agencies and businesses by this time next year. I contend that search marketers are best suited in this new ecosystem to successfully lead the charge in this new data-driven, analytical, real-time world. This is an opportunity to take search to the next level and expand your skill set (and sphere of influence).
Are you ready? Go ahead... prepare to take the Google Display Advertising Advanced Exam. It wouldn't be a bad place to start.