Search marketing is getting more attention from senior executives, according to early results of the annual search market survey by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO).
Where less than half of senior management respondents last year said that they were either moderately involved or very involved in SEM programs, 90 percent of respondents have said so this year.
"Online spending is reaching record levels. Smart senior management is seeing that search engine marketing is no longer a minority player. It is an essential part of being a successful online business," says Kevin Lee, executive chairman of Did-It and a member of SEMPO's board of directors.
At the same time, SEM is no longer poaching budget from other marketing channels and has gained status as part of the overall marketing mix, according to the early results. So far, 42 percent of the advertisers say their SEM budget is a new allocation. Of those that are shifting budgets, the biggest loser is print, according to the survey.
"Search engine marketing has moved to the major leagues. Corporate advertisers are now dedicating funding to SEM and it makes sense they are expecting a clear return on investment from these new budgets," said Dana Todd, executive VP of SiteLab and SEMPO's president.
The survey, once again being conducted by Radar Research, is still underway and will conclude at the end of December.
In other early findings, 59 percent of corporate advertisers are reporting that direct sales is their primary objective for SEM, while brand awareness follows at 53 percent, followed by lead generation at 48 percent.
In the 2005 survey, 62 percent of advertisers that responded said they use search engine marketing to increase brand awareness, 60 percent said they use it to sell products or services directly, and 58 percent use search to generate leads that they plan to close via another channel.
Early results from this year's survey show that organic search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be the most popular form of SEM by a narrow margin. Of corporate advertisers sampled to date, 83 percent report organic SEO is their top choice, while paid placement follows at 80 percent. In the 2005 survey, 80 percent of respondents placed organic SEO first in their SEM program.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.
With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.