The SEM CEO’s Predictions, Part 2

My last column reviewed my 2004 predictions in that “dead” week between Christmas and New Year’s. Now, I’ll go public with my predictions for the coming year.

What does 2005 hold for search?

Search Is Tightly Integrated Into the Traditional Marketing Mix

Why were there so many acquisitions in the search space in 2004?

Search is foundational and necessary. It intersects with all other marketing strategies.

Increasingly more consumers are adopting search as they move along the purchase consideration continuum. Although it was previously treated as a bolt-on tactic or standalone direct marketing activity, search is finally “in” with the agency set. This means it’ll get a seat in the boardroom when companies’ overall marketing strategies and budgets are formulated.

Search will be intentionally integrated with all other marketing campaigns, and all those other campaigns will reap the benefits of search integration. Search will grow as a portion of the strategy mix and, as its effectiveness is fully understood, will encroach on the budgets for other marketing channels.

Agencies are finally beginning to understand the most profitable way to increase the results and effectiveness of their other marketing initiatives is to capture interest when it’s expressed in the search engines after each campaign.

Search Will Move Upstream and Win the CMO’s Attention

Search engine marketing (SEM) wants to embrace the CMO. This will happen in 2005 when the digital or traditional agency, which has either acquired or launched an SEM firm, introduces the concept in the context of the broader marketing strategy.

How will this be evidenced? By the end of this year, the CMO will be on the SEM firm’s monthly report distribution list and will attend campaign update meetings. We may even see one or two at the agency pitch staying in the room during the SEM portion of the presentation.

Vertical Search Will Arrive, Personalization Won’t

Vertical search is a much smarter, more sensible way to improve relevancy than “personalization.” Personalization seems to be a nonstarter. It requires a log-in and a cookie of some sort (or adjusting sliders). Too few Internet users will jump through that many hoops consistently.

Vertical search, however, is already with us. is a book (among other products) search engine; WebMD is a medical information search engine, and so on.

In 2005, more of these vertical content properties will rebrand themselves as search properties. Why? Because they get to be the “Uncola.”

They may currently be the biggest player in smaller markets. Why not move into a space that’s perceived as larger and more lucrative? In the mind of the Internet user, it’s better to be a search engine than a content destination or portal. It’s a different priority and mental position. Besides, Internet users go online with search on the brain.

Personalized search will continue to be tested but won’t become a default setting or widely adopted feature on any major search engine this year.

Your Predictions

Readers emailed a few of their own predictions. I’ll highlight a few. Thanks to everyone who shared, and sorry there’s only room for a few.

Josh Grossman from Beyond Blossoms writes:

I believe Overture and Google will look for more ways to increase revenue. At the very least, logos will be added to paid search results and will cost more for the advertiser…. With both companies needing results for Wall Street, more advertised results will be featured and fewer organic [ones].

Ravi Venkatraman suggests vertical search will lead, but only if it’s content-focused:

Vertical search will have to be content-rich [to succeed].([This is] the reason why shopping review and comparison sites will be more popular than pure search sites.)

Local classified person-to-person will [become] more popular (e.g., craigslist, LiveDeal).

Though Ravi’s second prediction may not seem SEM related, I kept it because sites such as craigslist are actually vertical search sites that haven’t yet discovered their true identity. SEM will follow the users to their chosen search engines.

Jay Berkowitz from The Ten Golden Rules offers:

I think 2005 will be the year of local search. Small businesses that couldn’t afford clicks on a national scale can get in the game now. We’ll see a flood of regional dollars into paid search.

Local search will grow in 2005, and every year from now on. I don’t agree that 2005 will be “the year” of local search. It will have its big year, no doubt, but that’s still a few years off.

Finally, Barry Dennis predicts an interface change at a major search engine:

One search engine will promise, then deliver, a credible program that delivers local results first or, at worst, side by side with traditional rankings…. Some smart search engine will put all their rankings, paid and organic, side by side, rather than paid first [followed by] organic.

Stay tuned. I’ll recap these predictions next December to see how well we did.

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

ClickZ & CMO Council Seek Your Views

ClickZ and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in cooperation with the Promotion Marketing Association, seek your views on where and how technology is effecting and influencing promotional strategies, activities, processes, functions, and outcomes. With interactive and digital media channels showing the greatest rate of growth among all promotional disciplines in 2003, we are most interested in your perspectives as a strategic marketing professional.

Please take 10 minutes to complete this online questionnaire. We’ll share the results with all participants and provide a full report in mid-January, 2005. Of course, ClickZ will share the results with our readers. You can also request a report of this survey at the end of the online questionnaire. More information on the CMO Council is available here.

Please go to the survey site now via this link.

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