SEMPO Study Points To Verifying ROI As Greatest Challenge

Social media advertising is the fastest-growing digital marketing segment, but search engine optimization and paid search still lead when it comes to investments.

The study from the Search Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO) released Tuesday shows a huge jump in growth for social media advertising among agencies and marketers. From 65% in 2015 to 76% in 2016 for agencies, and from 57% in 2015 to 69% in 2016 for marketers.

The eleventh annual edition of the non-profits search report — 2016 State of Search Report — surveyed nearly 500 respondents from marketers and advertisers to agencies and consultants. This year, the report adds feedback from ecosystem suppliers.

The report analyzes channel-specific activities, trends, investments, and metrics. Findings confirm the continued rise of agency investment in Google for paid search fielded in 2016, but also reveal significant differences between agency and brand challenges, such as hiring talent and content marketing integration, respectively.



There are no surprises here. Agencies are still investing more in Google than marketers, but Bing is a solid choice for No. 2. Some 70% of agencies said they are investing more in Google last year compared with 2015; Bing, 27%, and Yahoo, 8%. Marketers said they invested more in Google; 29% said they invested more in Bing, and 16% they invested more in Yahoo, respectively.  

In terms of measuring the return on investment of campaigns, 47% of agencies find social to be the most difficult, followed by search engine optimization at 42%, display at 39%, email at 29%, and paid search at 24%. Marketers also find social to be the most difficult channel to measure for ROI at 51%, followed by SEO at 44%, display at 40%, paid search at 26%, and email at 26%.

When asked to name the greatest challenges in managing email marketing efforts, agencies and consultants pointed to budgets at 38%, followed by measuring ROI and integration tying at 29%, and hiring talent at 21%. Marketers cited integration at 35% the most challenging, followed by generating content at 27%, measuring ROI at 26% and hiring talent at 13%.

Mobile use continues to rise. At 71% it is the most significant emerging search trend. Placing campaigns in AdWords on the right rail follows at 44%, AdWords ETAs at 40%, content marketing integration at 36%, integration remarketing at 32%, social ads at 27%, programmatic buying at 19%, and use of ad blocking at 18%.

The SEMPO Research Committee will provide a detailed look at the report at SEMPO’s 2017 Search Industry Forum in May at the Hyatt Regency in Miami. 

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