Will SEMs Become “Metrics Marketers”?

NEW YORK – As the principles behind search marketing extend into other marketing disciplines, search engine marketers are in a position to leverage their skills as “metrics marketers” to serve clients.

That’s what a group of senior executives from the major search engines told a crowd of marketers at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York on Wednesday. The executives spoke as part of a panel discussion entitled “Search Advertising: Now & Future.”

“The big thing about search is the ability to target consistently, and second is the ability to track them,” said Tim Cadogan, VP of search at Yahoo Search Marketing. “There’s a lot of potential in harnessing consumer intent.”

Google has been the most active in extending its search marketing platform to other channels. In January, the company acquired dMarc Broadcasting, a company with an automated advertising platform for radio ads. Google also began testing a program in August to resell print ads to its AdWords advertisers in magazines, and began placing client ads in newspapers in December.

According to Tim Armstrong, VP of ad sales at Google, one of search marketing’s strengths is its ability to let marketers target ads for thousands of different products, instead of the top few that might make it into a TV campaign. Bringing that ability to other media, as Google has begun doing with print and radio ads, is a natural fit, he said.

“The information that comes out of search is transferable to other kinds of marketing. It has measurability and accountability, which are wide open in other areas,” Armstrong said. “Most agencies competitively aren’t set up to manage their business from a spreadsheet the way search marketers do. They shouldn’t be nervous, but they should be putting energy into understanding metrics.”

The value of metrics is transforming other marketing disciplines, which are placing more emphasis on using data to target consumer intent and deliver relevant messages in all forms of advertising, said Gerry Campbell, VP & GM of search and navigation at AOL.

“It is critical as an industry to think about advertising for users and not to users,” Campbell said.

The increasing emphasis on metrics gives search marketers an advantage over some traditional ad agencies, since SEMs have been forced to justify their budgets with results and prove the value they deliver, while many traditional agencies that were not direct response-driven have had lower standards to meet, said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch and the host of Search Engine Strategies.

“Traditional agencies have always been about creating desire, but not having to deliver it. They’re not measured on having to sell a product. For SEMs, everything is measured, and they’ve had to fight for every nickel and dime,” Sullivan said. “Search marketers have had to evolve into ‘metrics marketers,’ and use them to justify their existence.”

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