Finding Millions of Lost Souls is No Small Task
1. Tough economic times make companies cut budgets to the bones. Any money they do spend has to work
harder. This is good news for search advertising, the most measurable of direct-response advertising - and agencies keep reminding advertisers that a bad economy is the best time to advertise.
JupiterResearch analyst Evan Andrews predicts the search marketing industry will continue to thrive, with a 13 percent compound annual growth rate through 2013. He says, "Agencies see search as a safe
haven for their marketing investments. You can track every click and conversion, down to the penny."
2. Jupiter also sees more companies bringing search management in-house; in fact, the job boards are full of ads for search pros. But they'll need to know more than ever, says David Berkowitz, director of strategic planning for 360i. "Auction-based media will become a bigger skill set than just search," he says, "but having an expertise in search will give you a leg up on these new platforms."
3. "The dirty secret of the industry is that there's a huge amount of grunt work involved today in finding the gems and opportunities," says Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Clickable. "Automation can help speed up those processes, so humans can focus more on intuition, understanding business issues, and going after more exotic challenges."
4. "With better analytics and optimization across campaigns, understanding how search fits in and where it impacts the funnel is a key area," says Jill Balis, senior vice president, managing director of SMG Search, Strategy & Analytics. Search and other media will still be bought separately, but they'll be analyzed together.
5. With search capabilities moving in-house, and better management and analytics software at every price range, "agencies will have to work harder for their margins, offering more strategic services. You can't sell the grunt work at a high margin," Kalehoff says.
6. There may be some search tech doing it better, but the Googliath of search will continue to dominate. That doesn't mean there won't be scrambling among the also-rans. "It's a safe bet is that the top search players next year won't be what they are right now," Berkowitz says.
7. Yahoo is in play, and how that shakes out could mess with marketers, says Kevin Ryan, CEO of Motivity Marketing. "It's more likely that Yahoo will outsource all of its search to Google. That opens the door to all kinds of other chaos."
8. In Q2 2008, the U.S. wireless data market had grown 40 percent year-over-year, according to Chetan Sharma Consulting; the new iPhone and Google's Android software added to the excitement. Both Yahoo and Google have amped up their mobile search efforts to good effect. But, Balis says, "we have to figure out whether mobile search campaigns are separate while people are using a mobile device to do regular search. Is it a mobile result or a regular result? What's the best creative strategy and the best result to present to people on mobile devices?"
9. Everyone thinks local search is the next frontier, especially as mobile devices become a major access point to the Internet. The question is, who's going to make it happen? "Joe the Plumber still could care less about the Internet," Ryan says. "The original promise of the Internet was as an incredibly local and geographically relevant medium, but we failed to engage the small and medium enterprises."
10. It's a great time to be a search expert. Says Andrews, "Both agencies and in-house marketers are struggling with a continuing tight labor market. Search engine optimization and search marketing are areas of expertise that are still hard to find."