Direct sales, branding primary SEM objectives: SEMPO survey

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As search engine marketing (SEM) matures, direct sales and branding continue to be the top objectives, according to findings of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization's (SEMPO) State of the Market survey for 2007.

According to the survey, 58% of advertisers reported that their primary objective for SEM spending was direct sales, while 61% said it was brand awareness.

Search marketing is still growing and it is still largely associated as a performance medium, said Dana Todd, chairperson of SEMPO. “We're very gratified to see its flexibility and to understand it as a medium that has equal value as both a branding mechanism and as a business acquisition mechanism,” she said.

According to the survey, budgets for SEM programs continue to be “poached” from offline marketing such as print, direct mail, and TV advertising, as well as online marketing like Web site development.

“This year, we saw a significant slice into magazines,” Todd added. “We're still cannibalizing print budgets and other types of brand budgets.

Survey results also indicate that marketers are continuing to assess emerging media channels such as video and mobile search.

About 43% of respondents said they were interested in contextually targeted advertising attached to video search results while 40% were interested in trying mobile search.  However, 40% of advertisers said they wanted to pay the same for video search as they currently pay for traditional search, while 19% said they wanted to pay less. And 33% of respondents said they wanted to pay the same for mobile search as traditional search, and 25% said they wanted to pay less for it.

“We have a healthy share of advertisers who are interested in trying out new things,” Todd said. She added that, although advertisers want to experiment, they appear to be less willing to pay a premium for untried media, especially in a recessionary climate.

SEMPO is a global nonprofit organization consisting of more than 720 members. More than 800 search engine advertisers and search engine marketing (SEM) agencies completed the survey, which was overseen by Radar Research and administered by IntelliSurvey.

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