Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 14, 2009 5:28 PM

Confusion Over Search Engine Marketing

What a strange, magnificent and scary world we live in.

Marketing Pundits (like me) were quick to forecast a serious uptake in search engine marketing as the recession (which, according to some is officially over) took hold. Common sense dictates that as Marketers get nervous and hold back on their advertising spend, they're going to focus whatever dollars they are using on strategies and tactics that really drive results and that are highly measurable. Search engine marketing fits the bill perfectly.

It turns out that researchers following the paid search world found that it declined 26% overall.

This was the net result from a newly released report by Hitwise for research done leading up to May 9th, 2009. "Referrals from search engines continue to climb but the proportion of clicks going to sponsored or paid listings is decreasing. This is no doubt a result of cutbacks in marketing spend due to the recession," said Hitwise analyst, Heather Hopkins, in the news item, Hitwise - Paid Search Sinks Fast, published in BizReport on May 13th, 2009.

And yet, a day later, we're being told that 45% of respondents to a joint study by eConsultancy and Guava planned to raise spending on their paid search programs.

eMarketer ran the news item, Searching For Sales, Traffic And Branding, which says, "with the global economy faltering, money in short supply, search marketing is often the tool that marketers rely on to attract new customers. 'Search marketing is the best customer acquisition tool in the online space,' said eMarketer senior analyst David Hallerman."


Yes, some of the reports and studies are funded by the actual agencies and consultancy groups that make their profit from these specific channels, but this type of differing insight (released within days of one another) is not going to help the more traditional Marketers make the right decisions. Beyond the research, we all know that more and more people are doing searches in and around the products and services we sell all of the time, and the opportunity to put our highly targeted and related messages in front of them - on a pay-per-click basis - is something that no brand can afford to avoid. Still, it would be much more helpful to the growth of the Digital Marketing channel if we could rally the troops (just a little bit) on our research and news output.

What do you think, is search engine marketing up, down or right where we left it prior to the meltdown?

By Mitch Joel