The mystery of search engine marketing
Search engine marketing has always played a critical role in managing a company’s online brand visibility. However, with the Internet becoming what is arguably the dominant medium today, search engine marketing has also become a key driver in a company’s overall branding strategy. Unfortunately, the maturity of products and services that comprise search engine related disciplines comes at a time when the industry has never been more complicated and difficult to navigate. Although companies today have much more choice in how they execute their search engine initiatives, I find that many marketing executives struggle more today with their online marketing strategies than they did a few years ago. In today’s blog post, I’ll share my thoughts on the current state of the search engine marketing industry.
My experience with Search Engine Marketing predates many in the field. In the mid-’80s, I co-founded what was at the time the largest web development company in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. My partner and I later sold that company to the world’s largest web enablement company, where I stayed for a period as Director of Internet Strategy before leaving to found one of the top 50 interactive advertising agencies in the US. USA. At last week’s Search Engine Strategy Conference 2006 in San Jose, California, it became clear that the industry has shown remarkable growth and has made tremendous strides in sophistication as well as the diversity of product and service offerings today. available, but I wonder if things are getting better. better or worse for the consumer.
Speaking regularly with many senior executives, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs, one thing is clear…they’re clearly not dominates the area of search engine marketing. While these professionals understand the potential that search engine marketing has for their businesses, they don’t know how to capitalize on it. In fact, many of the people I’ve spoken to are extremely frustrated by the amount of money they’ve poured into search initiatives without being able to develop an understanding of the medium, so they haven’t yet been able to develop a consistent winning strategy in this space.
The main problems that exist within the search industry are tied to the fact that it is still an embryonic medium. There are so many ways to buy advertising on more mature media like radio or television. Compare this to the many options available to consumers and businesses looking to buy Internet advertising: search engine optimization, pay-per-click, pay-per-call, pay-per-acquisition, sponsored advertising, Internet yellow pages, magazine ads. , contextual advertising, integrated advertising, pop-overs and pop-unders, banner delivery networks, directory ads, link farms, video ads, webinars, etc. Advertising media in the infancy of its life cycle spits out new opportunities faster than you can shake a stick, with inexperienced salespeople pulling their teeth out of the advertiser’s penny. Rarely does a week go by when I don’t talk to a company that has a horror story to tell about a search marketing company that overpromised and underdelivered, and when the advertiser realized what was happening, he had spent thousands of dollars with little to show for it.
Another problem with the search industry is that Google currently controls most of the traffic. Combine Google’s dominant position with the fact that they will share little to no information with advertisers and that they can change the rules of the game at any time and you give new meaning to the term “flying blind.” However, the transparency problem within the search industry is not limited to Google. Most search engines play their cards very close to the chest as they try to establish a market advantage. Until competitive pressure is brought to bear on Google, the odds are stacked against the advertiser. I met with a client last week who was spending 50% of his pay-per-click budget on Yahoo and MSN because it was recommended to him by his search marketing company. The problem is that given the advertisers’ product line and target market, Yahoo and MSN would produce virtually no return for them… This is a big problem.
The fact is, the Internet is the medium that can deliver the fastest speed and the highest return on your marketing buck. I also believe this will continue to be the case, as the dominance of the Internet medium will only continue to widen the gap over alternative media. Businesses can’t afford not to allocate a substantial part of their advertising budget to online advertising, but until the medium matures, it will behoove them to make sure they work with the best providers who can keep up with the rapid pace of change. in the industry. .