SEMPO Survey Probes SEM/SEO Issues

This week, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) kicks off its second annual “State of Search Engine Marketing” survey. The survey’s mission is to gather information from marketers of all sizes, and across all industries, to learn about their current SEM (define) activities and spending, as well as their planned spending for 2006. As valuable parts of the SEM ecosystem, agencies and search marketers are invited to participate.

I’ve been involved in the survey as both SEMPO chairman and a member of SEMPO’s Research Committee, and we were very pleased with the outcome of last year’s survey. We look forward to another successful survey, with your help.

Marketers want to know what practices, attitudes, best practices, and benchmarks are common within the search marketplace. The survey will go beyond gathering data. It will establish benchmarks to help the industry understand advertisers’ and agencies’ motivations and attitudes.

By getting a good mix of advertiser and agency participation, SEMPO will be able to share a volume of information with the community at large, benefiting us all. The more companies that participate, the more representative and accurate the survey will be.

Seize this opportunity to have make voice heard! The small investment of time to take the survey will be rewarded with early access to the results, as well as the knowledge you participated in shaping the industry. Analysts, Wall Street, and search engine representatives are eager to see the results. Analysts and the press rarely agree about current attitudes and future prospects of paid and organic search. But through this survey, marketers can share their views and preferences on several key issues and areas.

Below, some the keys issues covered in the survey and the rationale for inclusion. Many, if not all, issues pertain to nearly every search engine marketer.

  • Budget allocation. The survey explores organic SEO (define) and PPC (define) search resources and budget allocations by analyzing the cash and HR resources currently dedicated to both areas. The unpredictability of SEO investment and PPC search’s escalating costs make resource allocation a hot topic for many marketers. The survey will try to get a handle on resources currently allocated to both paid and organic search, and any plans to change those allocations.

  • Click fraud. Click fraud continues to be an important industry topic. The survey is expanded to gather more information regarding click fraud and marketers’ concerns about the level of fraud.
  • PPC pricing inflation. Many marketers have seen significant inflation in the CPCs (define) required to maintain high visibility in search results. That high visibility is, of course, critical for maintaining scale. What’s your opinion on continued bid escalation? How much more are you willing to pay if click prices continue to rise? These questions and others regarding spending are covered in significant detail.
  • Trademarks use. With some recent litigation over PPC trademark use now settled, and other lawsuits still pending, trademark use in PPC search campaigns is a fascinating and very important area. Through the survey, SEMPO seeks to understand trademark buying behavior.
  • Contextual search advertising. Much click inventory growth across the search engine marketplace has been driven by across-the-board expansion into contextual ad placements. These, in turn, are driven by keyword targeting. What do you think of contextual ads? What are your opinions of and experiences with contextual advertising?
  • SEM expert or in-house search? What trends are emerging regarding outsourcing search to search marketers and agencies? Are trends different based on marketer size? Research companies such as Jupiter Research have weighed in on the subject, reporting the trend is toward outsourcing search to experts. Now it’s your opportunity to weigh in and include the reasons behind your decision.
  • Local search. Do you engage in localized search, either as a national marketer or a regional/local marketer?
  • Paid inclusion. Many search marketers engage in paid inclusion (XML or per-URL paid inclusion). What are the paid inclusion trends compared to paid placement and organic SEO?
  • Offline media. How, in your overall media campaign, does search compare with offline media? Where do search budgets come from?

Perhaps the most important questions have to do with ROI (define), profit, and the success metrics marketers and agencies use to judge SEO and other media. SEMPO is looking beyond the traditional understanding of search to deal with questions such as where branding fits in a medium in which many post-click behaviors are measurable. If you have an opinion, please share it.

I look forward to reporting what you share about your SEM efforts when responses are tallied and analyzed.

Join us at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago, December 5-8, 2005.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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