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SEMPO State of Search

Posted on 3.30.2010

Measuring return on investment (ROI) is the top challenge facing marketers this year according to the recently released State of Search Engine Marketing Repot from SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization).

The complexity of measuring ROI is the biggest challenge across channels - search engine optimization, paid search and social media marketing. The report estimates that the North American search engine marketing industry will grow 14% from $14.6 billion in 2009 to $16.6 billion by the end of 2010.

Additional key finding from the report include:

- The rise of social media marketing budgets, although still modest compared to search engine optimization and paid search, represents the biggest opportunity for search marketers this year.

- Around half the companies (49%) are reallocating budgets to search engine marketing from print advertising. More than a third (36%) are shifting money away from direct mail, and almost a quarter are moving budgets from conferences and exhibitions (24%) and web display advertising (23%).

- The research highlights Google’s dominance as a search engine, with 97% of companies paying to advertise on Google AdWords. Nearly three quarters of companies (71%) pay to advertise on the Google search network while 56% use the Google content network (keyword targeted).

- More than half of advertisers (56%) and agencies (62%) say that Google keywords have become more expensive over the last year. Meanwhile, only around a third of advertisers noted an increase in Yahoo (32%) and Bing (29%) keyword costs.

- From a range of trends and marketplace developments, company respondents are most likely to say the personalization of search results is having an impact. Just under a third of companies (31%) say this is “highly significant,” and a further 44% say it is “significant.”  Agency respondents felt the “rise of local search” was the most significant emerging trend with 38% saying this was “highly significant” with 47% labeling it as “significant.”

Sara Holoubek, outgoing SEMPO President for 2009-2010, said, “Difficult market conditions caused by the recession resulted in a relatively slow year for the industry in 2009, which was improved by a significant upturn in the fourth quarter. This momentum has continued into 2010, and we are expecting a return to double-digit percentage market growth in 2010.”

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