Some of the greatest challenges in managing paid-search advertising campaigns begin with destination pages, agency budgets, and finding talent, according to research released Monday from the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO).
The SEMPO 10th Annual State of Search Industry report compares agency and marketer opinions on the evolving role of search in today's digital marketing mix and the issues influencing tactical implementation.
Overall, marketing search budgets rose in the past year. The SEMPO research suggests that 60.2% of brands and their agency partners are investing more of their budget in Google, followed by 24.6% in Bing and 15.2% in Yahoo. That is good news for most engines -- except Yahoo.
Among the brands and agency partners participating in the survey, 60.2% view Yahoo as no longer relevant when it comes to investments in paid-search advertising. Some 36.7% feel the same way about Bing, and 3.1% feel this way about Google. For agencies the rates are higher -- at 79.4%, 70.1%, 51.6%, and 61.8%, respectively.
Some 16.3% of brand marketers find securing budgets for paid-search campaigns a major challenge, compared with 20.9% of agencies.
Views on fee structures also differ. While marketers tend to prefer pay-for-performance models, agencies prefer flat fees. When asked to name the typical fee percentage paid on top of ad budgets, 78% of marketers say they spend under 12%, while 72% of agencies say brands spend between 9% and 20%
For paid search, charging a percentage of media spend was the most popular fee structure with 32% of agencies charging this way, followed by 28% charging a flat fee and 21% charging for time and materials. Slightly more than 40% of agencies that manage non-paid social media for clients charge a flat fee, compared with about a third that charge for time and materials.
It appears that marketers and agencies don't see eye to eye when it comes to what they see as challenging, which helps to create a support system where one is stronger than the other. About 21.8% of marketers vs. 17.1% of agencies say determining whether to take social media in-house or outsource it to a firm creates a challenge; 17.1% of marketers vs. 12.8% of agencies view optimizing destination pages as a major challenge; 9.9% of marketers vs. 19% of agencies view budgeting for email media as a challenge; and 9.1% vs. 10.3% think measuring the return on investment from email campaigns as a challenge.
Marketers outpace agencies in email use, at 86% vs. 50%. Mobile campaigns across the board are lower than expected, at 48% vs. 42%, respectively.
One area of challenge is the inability to agree on specific metrics to determine a campaign's success, with 22% of marketers vs. 14.2% of agencies reporting that agreeing on specific metrics as one of the biggest challenges.
Agencies are relied on for more expertise in specialized segments of paid search. Marketers are more comfortable handling social media in-house, while agencies are more likely to use social advertising on Facebook.