That's the mental image I see each time I'm reminded of all the industry spin-offs that have developed due to the explosion within search engine marketing. Just think about some of the industry categories born from search over the past two to three years:
Search-leveraged public relations
Online reputation management
Online trademark monitoring
Local search engine marketing
Landing page creative, testing & optimization
Automated bid management
Pay-per-call search marketing
Blog & RSS feed marketing
You get the picture. With these new categories have come dozens of new companies offering some or all of these services, each shooting for the top spot in their respective category. Heck, JupiterResearch is predicting the paid inclusion category alone to be a $200 million segment in 2005.
Measuring Up. Another fascinating measure of this industry's growth can be made by looking at the trade shows that support and/or provide relevant content about search engine marketing and these various new categories. There's Ad:Tech, Search Engine Strategies, WebmasterWorld's Pub Conference, and the iMedia Summits, as well as more specialized conferences such as Shop.org, Internet Retailer, TravelComm, iDating and CoPharm.
The growth of these events reflects not only the ever-expanding search landscape, but also the growing interest in search engine marketing. Every year these trade shows break new records in terms of exhibitors and attendees. There seems to be a never-ending supply of people attending their first show, and exhibitors willing to plunk down some hefty cash to grab 100 square feet of real estate among a sea of competitors and solution providers.
Back in the Day. It's kind of funny to think about it, but WAY back in 2003, we thought we had one of the cooler booths at Search Engine Strategies, which was held in BOSTON (yes, it was held in Boston back then). At the time, Google was exhibiting with a 6-foot folding table and a banner hung behind them, Yahoo! had a bit more elaborate space, and MSN did not even exhibit back then.
Fast-forward to today--where at times our booth seems outdated and understated compared to the sophisticated monstrosities that so many companies are using to grab prospects' attention. And looking ahead to Ad:Tech in New York in 2006, show organizers are having to accommodate all their exhibitors by spreading them across THREE different floors.
I do not envy those new to the space. They will have a difficult time navigating aisle upon aisle of ever-expanding companies offering these new services. I certainly would not want to be a newbie and have to learn about all of these new technologies, figuring out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together (if they even do). Talk about drinking from a fire hose...
So the next time you hear of a new niche, service, or offering that's an obvious and natural offshoot of search engine marketing, think of it as just one more marble in the jar.