Search marketers optimizing campaigns, Jupiter finds

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Search engine marketers are becoming ever more sophisticated as the medium matures. The number of marketers using bid management tools and Web analytics tools has increased to 26% in 2006, compared with 19% last year, according to JupiterResearch in its U.S. SEM Executive Survey 2006, a biannual study of search engine marketing executives that was released Tuesday.

"An increase in campaign size and spending is causing marketers to optimize their search campaigns," said Sapna Satagopan, research associate at Jupiter. That spending on campaigns increases based on various factors, including the realization that search is a powerful means to drive revenue, she said. "The understanding of search is pushing the growth."

Large marketers, many of which have come late to the search game, are fast adopters. They tend to quickly adopt sophisticated measurement processes to determine the value of campaigns, according to the study. "You can't increase your budget and not measure the value of those dollars," Satagopan said.

Forty-four percent of marketers that use bidding and analytics tools have annual revenue of $50 million or more. In addition, more than half of those large marketers (56%) outsource one or more search marketing services, especially paid search management, Jupiter found. Those marketers that are employing bid management and analytics are even more likely to outsource: 84% of those marketers use search agencies for one or more services, primarily for bid management technologies.

In addition, spending is increasing. Two-thirds (66%) of search marketers said they plan to increase spending on search this year and, among the "sophisticates" who use bidding and analytics tools, 72% say they will increase overall spending on search. Marketers are also increasing their use of search engine optimization tactics.

The top goal among search marketers is immediate sales of products online (39%), followed by building brand awareness (32%) and lead generation (29%). The so-called sophisticated marketers are more focused on lead generation, Jupiter found, but branding remains an important goal for most.

The survey was conducted online with a total of 420 search marketers and agencies.

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