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Search Marketing 2008: What We've Learned, Where We're Headed
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Search Marketing Now put on a great webinar entitled "Search Marketing 2008: What We've Learned and Where We're Headed". The panel featured industry experts Chris Sherman, Dana Todd, Jeff Pruitt and Greg Sterling.

This was a nice follow up to our recent series on SEO in 2009. Chris started the conversation with his view on the economy effect and the fact that Search may experience a good news bad news scenario. Dana Todd concurred and suggested that SEO will remain solid as a line item on online marketing budgets. There is about a 10 to 1 ratio in terms of spend going to SEM vs. SEO and technology. Dana also mentioned that in early 2008, SEMPO predicted search marketing spend of about $15.7B this year, but more realistically we are looking at $11 or $12 billion in 2008. Search is now 52% on the online ad spend.

Dana mentioned that she is hearing that Search will remain stable in 2009. She mentioned that Search is becoming an increasingly valuable customer acquisition tool. Over 1/3 of new acquisitions of sales online comes from Search (the actually number may in fact be closer to 35%). Even though online advertising may become diminished, Search is maintaining it's share.

(Images courtesy of Third Door Media)

Jeffrey Pruitt from iCrossing was up next. He started by discussing that Search is an "always on network" and that the Internet is changing everything we do. We access it from laptops, desktops, phones and gaming devices. Search marketers need to keep up with this change. Pruitt stated that we are a "network of human beings" and that social media will continue to grow in 2009 citing the 2008 US election with examples being Twitter and Facebook.

He went on that brands need a new model to be successful. Digital asset optimization is meeting the demand of online media. Finding preferred content in the format they want (mobile, video etc.) He mentioned that Blended Search will continue to become important. We will need content to address these blended search options. Optimization will remain key.

We've echoed these thoughts numerous times stating that content will remain critical as part of an online marketing strategy. It's how you deliver and optimize this content that will set you apart. Optimizing for blended search will become even more important.

Greg Sterling was up next and started out by suggesting that Search remains the "killer app". Search has had a profound impact on advertising. He touched on the fact that Google is still the dominant player in Search. Will 2009 be the year of the iPhone? There are over 10,000 applications available for the iPhone. Mobile advertising still has not received it's share of the advertising budget but this may change in 2009. According to a study from Opus Research only 29% surveyed suggested that they access the Internet on their mobile phone. 56% of these use search engines on their mobile phone. Greg stated that "It's only a matter of time before there are more search happening on mobile phones than on computers." Greg also pointed our some data from comScore that on the Internet the typical user searched 18.6 times per week, with mobile, 26% searched 11+ times per week according to a study from Opus Research.

At the end of the day the panel communicated their predictions for 2009.
  • Dana suggested that online advertising overall will drop by 4 - 8%.
  • Search will maintain its current proportion of budget.
  • Jeffrey predicted that search will once again save the digital economy
  • Search will evolve into digital asset optimization and performance media (blended search optimization)
  • Attributes of search will be applied to other areas of digital marketing - SEO is not dead. SEO will continue to grow. SEO may grow to 45% of advertisers budgets over the next 5 years. (Editor's Note: This is similar to what we have predicted with our SEO in 2009 series)
  • SEO defines how content is found and distributed online.
  • Greg declared that consumer adoption will mobile will continue to grow in 2009.
  • More traditional media will use mobile tie-ins (SMS)
  • Search market share will remain the same at the end of 2009 as it is today (unless Microsoft purchases Yahoo's Search business)
A question was posed about the integration of offline and online marketing. Dana responded that mobile may be part of the solution in this respect, but this has been something that has been difficult to do as part of cross channel marketing. The offline world is not going away, so integration will be the goal for many marketers in 2009 and beyond.

I posed the following question to the panel "In 2009, do you see more companies setting budget towards SEO as it has proven to be a cost effective form of online marketing that has typically received a small fraction of online budgets?" I did not receive a response. However there were a number of comments made pertaining to the cost effectiveness of Search and of SEO or organic search marketing. Search has the measurement and the performance to justify the spend.

Great topic and nice job by everyone on the panel.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, December 11, 2008  
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