Search engine marketing has always played an important role in managing a company's online brand visibility. However, as the internet may be the dominant environment today, search engine marketing is also a key driver in a company's overall branding strategy. Unfortunately, the maturity of products and services that embrace the discipline of search engines comes at a time when the industry has never been more complex and difficult to navigate. While companies today have more options for implementing their search engine initiatives, I find that many marketing managers today have more problems with their online marketing strategies than they did a few years ago. In today's blog post, I will share my views on the state of the search engine marketing industry today.
My experience with search engine marketing precedes many in this area. In the mid-1980s, I co-founded the largest web development company in the Pacific Northwest. Later, my partner and I sold the company to the world's largest web activation company, where I briefly served as director of internet strategy before starting one of the top 50 interactive advertising agencies in the US. In the final weeks of the 2006 Search Engine Strategy Conference in San Jose, California, it was clear that the industry has shown tremendous growth and tremendous strides in the development and range of products and services available today, but I doubt it. .whether things will be better or worse for the consumer.
In casual conversations with many senior executives, marketers, and entrepreneurs, one thing becomes clear… they clearly don't know much about search marketing. While these professionals understand the potential of search marketing for their business, they don't know how to take advantage of it. In fact, many people I spoke to were extremely frustrated with how much money they had invested in search initiatives without being able to develop an understanding of the profit strategy medium in the field.
The main problem in the search industry has to do with the fact that it is still an embryonic environment. There are so many ways to buy advertising in more mature media such as radio or television. Compare this to the many options available to consumers and businesses looking to buy advertising on the Internet: Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click, Call Payment, Acquisition Payment, Sponsored Advertising, Internet Yellow Pages, Ezine Ads, Contextual Advertising, Inline advertising, pop-ups and pop-ups, banner service networks, directory ads, link farms, video ads, webinars, etc. Stick with inexperienced vendors who are grappling with the advertiser's nickel. Rarely a week goes by without talking to a company with a terrible story to tell about a search marketing company that promises and doesn't deliver, and when advertisers find out what's going on, they've spent thousands of dollars on a little bit of it.
Another problem facing the search industry is that Google currently controls most of the traffic. Combine Google's dominance with the fact that they share little or no data with advertisers and they can change the rules of the game at any time, and this gives new meaning to the term "flying blind". However, the topic of transparency in the search industry is not limited to Google. Most search engines play their cards very close to the box to gain a foothold in the market. Until competitive pressure emerges on Google, the odds against advertisers increase. Last week I met a client who spent 50% of their pay-per-click budget on Yahoo and MSN because they were recommended by their search marketing company. The problem is, given the variety of products offered by advertisers and target market, Yahoo and MSN are barely making a return on investment... That's a big deal.