SEMPO: Social PPC is Giving Google Adwords a Run for Its Money

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on April 27, 2011.

SEMPO has released its comprehensive “State of Search” report for 2011, and there are many key findings that are of interest to practicing search marketers, search strategists and PPC media buyers, to name a few. Over 900 agencies and companies from 66 countries were interviewed for the 133-page report. SEMPO research chair Marc Englesman of Digital Brand Expressions offered some key insights on the report for MediaPost. Of the findings, it is notable that social networks have become substantial alternative PPC networks, in some cases driving higher PPC participation than the Yahoo / Bing search alliance.

“The SEMPO Report clearly shows that Facebook has rapidly become a top PPC advertising vehicle,” said Engelsman. “This may be driven in part by companies looking to quickly and easily buy their way into social media presence instead of taking the time to build their digital outposts more organically. This would follow the trend we saw in the early times of SEO when many marketers decided to forego true search engine optimization in favor of paid search as a way to get fast visibility.

“The reality of Facebook’s PPC ad growth (and to a lesser degree, the growth we are also seeing in use of LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and mobile) means the PPC model has expanded well beyond traditional search engines, and marketers need to understand and budget for the growing opportunities in this arena.”

He also noted a key shift from in-house, back to managed and outsourced models for a company’s search and social marketing efforts. “The reasons for this seem to be a combination of lack of time and skill levels to keep up with the fast-changing developments in SEO, paid search and social media,” he said.

The report also highlighted the following key findings:

- SEMPO estimates that the North American search engine marketing industry will grow by 16% in 2011 to a value of $19.3 billion, up from $16.6 billion in 2010.

- The emergence of the mobile internet is having a major impact on search marketing, even more than personalization. Seventy-nine percent of companies consider this development to be “highly significant” or “significant,” and this percentage has jumped 14 % since 2010.

- The utilization of social networks for marketing and media continues to grow. The percentage of company respondents who say they use Facebook now stands at 84%, up from 73% last year. Three-quarters (74%) of North American agencies say their clients run PPC campaigns on Facebook. Three-fourths of companies (75%) use Twitter for brand promotion, and more than a quarter (27%) of companies now use LinkedIn specifically for PPC campaigns.
- Only 44% of companies are now executing search engine optimization in-house, compared to 51 % last year. Only 38 % of companies are managing paid search marketing in-house, compared to 47 % last year.
- Google continues to dominate as a search engine, from both an advertiser and agency perspective, with 95% of companies paying to advertise on Google AdWords.

- “More than half of companies (54%) expect increased spending on SEO this year, while only 10% expect to spend less. On average, companies expect to spend 43% more on SEO in 2011 than they did in 2010, the same average increase as was anticipated for 2010 in last year’s survey. ”
- Social media marketing budgets are still modest compared to search engine optimization and paid search, but 64 % expect social media budgets to grow in 2011.

- Around three quarters of North American agencies (74%) and two-thirds of those outside the U.S. and Canada (69%) say their clients use Facebook for paid search.

- Of all Google features and placements, local results (55%), multiple listings (47%) and maps (42%) are considered to have the most significant impact on companies’ search performance.
- Around half of client-side respondents use location-based ads (49%) to enhance their paid search performance, while product listings and product extensions are the least used Google features.
- There has been a significant increase in the proportion of companies saying that social media activity is primarily aimed at improving customer service and satisfaction, from 8% in 2010 to 13% this year. Fewer companies than last year say social media is about generating leads (-4%), but 3% more agencies than in 2010 say this is the main objective.

Overall, the survey underscores the importance of a search marketing mindset in the changing media landscape, as well as many other key findings. Click here to obtain a full copy of the report.

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