A new ‘state of the nation’ survey from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that search advertising is still not fully integrated into the marketing mix, with 99% of UK advertisers believing there is a greater opportunity to link it with the rest of their communications activity.
The ‘IAB Search Marketing Barometer 2010’ found that search is still largely confined to specialists, with 60% of brands stating that those outside the wider digital team did not have a strong enough appreciation of how search can build a business. The study also revealed that only around a third of brands (37%) think that their corporate website fulfils their marketing objectives, leaving much room for improvement after consumers have clicked-through.
The IAB surveyed some 140 senior level marketing respondents from the top 100 advertisers in the UK such as O2, Unilever, Sainsbury’s, British Airways, P&G and the COI, to gauge how advanced marketers are in their usage and understanding of search, as well as highlight any relevant internal issues. The Barometer is also intended to guide search practitioners in terms of what they can do to ensure the industry remains progressive, helpful and transparent.
Anna Corp, SEO, affiliate and search manager for Sainsbury’s, said: “At Sainsbury’s we have a twofold approach of using search as direct response to drive online sales and to support our brand-building activities. This report really highlights the need for all marketing teams within brands, not just digital, to understand the opportunity search offers to support all marketing activity, and we hope that the search industry will continue to support us in this.”
The survey, which will now be conducted on an annual basis, identified 4 further key areas of significance for the development of the search industry:
Mixed levels of understanding – Whilst respondents stated that they understood PPC (78%) and SEO (75%) very well, never more than half of brands know how to use the newer tools such as universal search, social search, mobile and search retargeting. This suggests a real need for further education into how and why such tools should be employed to provide a holistic, more targeted and social search experience for users.
Budgets – Almost 90% of brands are finding it easy to switch budgets from traditional media to digital. 58% of marketers expect their SEO budgets to increase, whilst almost half (45%) of brands will be increasing their PPC budgets over the next 12 months. However, 72% respondents stated that their budgets were not sufficient to execute all the search activity they would like.
Search to build brands – 78% said search can build brands either directly or as part of the full user journey, reflected by actual use. 70% include brand building as a primary objective of SEO and over 50% for PPC.
Search efficiency – 44% of brands cited the cost of search as a current concern, whilst just over a third 35% would like their conversion rates to be higher. This indicates a shift in advertiser attitudes to search whereby reviewing and optimising activity is of greater importance.
Jack Wallington, IAB head of industry programmes and chair of the IAB Search Council said “The search marketing industry – worth £2.15 billion in 2009 – is in a state of transition. The IAB National Search Marketing Barometer 2010 captures a time of internal reflection and a sense of change. As a mainstay of the marketing mix, brands understand the fundamentals of search but a chasm of advanced knowledge has emerged because of shifting, evolving technology, increased economic pressures and changes in consumer search behaviour. It is the duty of every agency, search engine and marketing trade body to ensure brands are supplied with the more advanced information they require. ”