With its incredible growth and the attention the online advertising industry has garnered in recent years, it was only a matter of time before we'd begin to see a shift in the market.
The popularity of search engines such as Google and Yahoo is fueling the increase in search engine ad spending.
According to JupiterResearch, spending on search advertising was expected to increase from 41 percent ($6.5 billion) of all online ad spending in 2006 to 43 percent ($11.1 billion) by 2011.
But positive growth and growing pains go hand in hand. The search market has become incredibly competitive, which in turn is causing a sharp rise in the cost of search terms. Small businesses find it challenging to target their customers online because they are getting priced out of the keywords they need. Additionally, advertisers are faced with increased complexity in designing and executing what was once a "simple" search campaign. New providers have brought to market new tools and better ROI tracking, but now advertisers must dedicate more time and money to optimize their search campaigns.
Search pages will always remain a key piece of real estate online. But the fact is that search pages account for a small percentage of the Web. That means roughly 85 percent of the Web isn't about search, especially given the explosion of user-generated content with blogs and social networking communities. Advertisers are learning that focusing their entire budget on search pages isn't going to get them everywhere they need to be on the Web. By diversifying your strategy and targeting content pages, you can reach new audiences.
If you want to know the score of the game, go to Fox Sports.com, USAToday.com, or MSNBC.com. Most people don't use a search engine to find that type of information. That's why targeting content pages is a much more direct and effective way to reach your target audience. Why not target your ad about tailgating gear or season tickets right next to the article the target consumer is reading?
Advertisers also have the ability to target ads that take into account other factors, such as the context of the page, the demographic of the readers, or the consumer's behavior. Additionally, ads can be targeted locally - by town, city, or state - or even more granularly based on the user's location, which is known as geo-targeting.
These tools allow advertisers to target customers at different stages of the purchase cycle. Behavioral targeting allows insight into a consumer's Web-surfing habits to better target ads. For example, if a consumer regularly visits Web sites focused on real estate, an advertiser can assume the consumer is at least slightly interested in purchasing a home. If the consumer begins to read articles about mortgage rates, it's safe to assume the consumer is serious and looking to buy, and an advertiser can target the ad appropriately.
While this example clearly illustrates the importance of an integrated marketing campaign, there are other situations that call for a diversified strategy. Consider the strategic advantage of being able to target specific content pages to support a branding campaign. The ability to target Web sites such as MarketWatch, LifeScript, and The Wall Street Journal Online, which are key destinations for consumers, can help to increase brand exposure. In fact, comScore Media Metrix found that more than half of all U.S. Internet users visited general news sites.
Without a doubt, we're continuing to see media evolve each and every day, opening up new opportunities for advertisers and publishers, large and small. To keep up with this dynamic environment, consider diversifying your current online advertising strategy and discover new ways to get in front of key demographics.
Lance D. Podell is the CEO of Seevast, Corp. (firstname.lastname@example.org)