Merkle: Prioritizing Performance Media, What Marketers Say They Do

Just 48% of respondents to a quarterly Merkle survey prioritized organic search more this year compared with last, and 53% did the same for paid search. Fewer advertisers also increased display ad spend as cost per thousand (CPM) growth slows.

The data from Merkle’s most recent Performance Media Report Q4 2022 analyzes channel-level trends, as well as industry topics that impact cross-channel strategies.

It unpacks data around ad spend, marketers’ top priorities, and business readiness to ultimately deliver key takeaways for digital marketers at organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.

It's important to note that advertising spend trends tend to align with discretionary spending trends, according to the report, so the decline in consumer wallet share from inflation leads to less ad competition in the marketplace.

Programmatic display spend increased YoY for just 42% of respondents. Fewer advertisers reported programmatic spend increases than in the previous report.

Spend on video advertising cooled compared with the same quarter a year ago -- with just 43% of respondents reporting more spend this year versus last.

The amount that marketers spend on paid social increased YoY for 46% of respondents following a trend of platform diversification.

When asked to rank their top two priorities across display and paid social, 48% chose “determining how and when to activate across connected TV (CTV), over-the-top (OTT), YouTube, and online video.”

Data quality has become important. Improving product data quality for visual ads and combatting rising competition and CPCs are the top two important areas for marketers.

Fifty percent of marketers increased their spend on data quality for visual ads, and 42% for rising competition and CPCs. That’s, despite fewer advertisers reporting YoY increases in CPC and CPM across paid search, display, Facebook, and Instagram compared with the third quarter.

In the past three months, ad spend in paid search changed compared to the same period last year. The top three increases in paid search spend for the quarter include: Insurance at 75%, Media & Entertainment at 71%, and Health at 68%.

Organic search traffic rose for fewer advertisers in Q3 2022. Sixty-five percent of respondents experienced YoY increases in organic search-click traffic -- a 19-point drop compared with Q3. The number of respondents seeing YoY decreases remained largely unchanged.

When it comes to organic search, the two most important areas in June and August in 2022 include creating a cohesive experience across SEO and other channels at 46%, and streamlining site architecture and content or preparing site migration at 44%.

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