Friday, September 5, 2008

Search Insider: When The Going Gets Tough, Will Advertisers Get Going?

When The Going Gets Tough, Will Advertisers Get Going?

EVERY WEEK STUDIES, RESEARCH AND data are released that paint a picture of the advertising industry. And right now that painting would be something straight out of the Picasso Blue Period. The overall economic data from housing to job is not exactly rosy -- and the forecast for 2009 in the domestic advertising space, without the Olympics and a presidential election, is not far behind.

So, the following recently released studies and their associated data points got me thinking about the choices search provides advertisers moving into 2009.

Search Keeps Growing. Everything Else? Not So Much

The Wall Street Journal recently cited data from eMarketer indicating that "Search ad spending is on track to reach $10.4billion this year, double what will be spent on display ads." In its US Interactive Marketing Forecast, released in January, Forrester Research projects comparable search numbers, but suggests search would not double display's numbers  till 2012  -- and showed display significantly higher.

Integration is a Buzzword, but no one is yelling Bingo!

A recent study by iProspect, conducted by Jupiter Research, finds that 45% of search engine marketers do not integrate search marketing efforts with offline channels. The study notes that the top-two tactics for integration are inclusion of a URL and  use of the company name in offline efforts. And only 26% of advertisers use the same keywords in their search efforts that they use in offline efforts.

This is always good research, as it's used to compel more advertisers to tighten up their process. I did a blow-by-blow column on integration two years ago  -- and the proposition continues to be more difficult than it should be. But it raises some curious points worth examining. First off, at what point does inclusion of URL or brand name no longer count as integration? Why is the measure of integration following the messaging that comes from television? Yes, it's absolutely true that a correlation exists between search and television. And as this study shows, a large percentage of people originate interest via television and fulfill via search. But, given that search is the vehicle of expressing intent by consumers, why do we still focus on a one-way stream of integration (offline to online), instead of looking both ways? This is not a study question -- but one for advertisers

Who will go big and who will go home?

Clearly, advertising budgets will be challenged in 2009. The need for big ideas is now -- and yet research shows that few companies have cracked the integration nut. Looking for programs that have married integration and opportunities presented across channels, there are few that come to mind. Pontiac is the classic example, with its Google Pontiac tag, yet the payoff in search left something to be desired. The Yahoo-Special K program is another example -- but beyond that, the marriage of media channels that include search have been minimal at best.

So, with more need for stretching the dollar and search as the identified area of success and growing investment, how many marketers are willing to turn their planning process upside down? What should advertisers do now to marry learnings from search with other media, and how do they close the loop of knowledge? If we know that TV leads to search, where is the data on those going in-store and engaging offline from search activity?

There's a golden opportunity for advertisers to capture attention and engagement in coordinated efforts. I'm on a panel at SMX in a few weeks discussing this topic, and wonder aloud how many companies (both SEMs/Ad Agencies and advertisers) are moving in this direction. Send me a note or comment on this blog or the new Outrider/GroupM Search blog,, and tell me what you are doing to go big.

Chris Copeland is CEO of GroupM Search -- The Americas, a division of GroupM. GroupM Search is a global integrated search marketing specialist that includes Outrider, MEC Interaction, MindShare Search and MediaCom Search. Contact him at

Search Insider for Friday, September 5, 2008:

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