From DM News' Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing: Finding Your Search Engine Marketing Niche

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Search engine marketing as a marketing tactic is becoming more mature, and the practitioners are becoming more varied in terms of the titles and the organizations they represent. One of the most significant changes in the past year has been a growth of SEM talent and skills inside corporations and inhouse marketing departments.

One of the statistics from the 2005 Search Engine Marketin

g Professional organization's State of Search Marketing Survey that seemed most unsettling to SEM service providers was this: 65 percent of advertiser respondents in the survey said they plan to manage 100 percent of their search marketing inhouse (including paid search, organic search and paid inclusion). The figure was slightly higher -- 69 percent -- among advertisers with less than 500 employees.

So what does that mean for service providers? And how should new companies and consultants coming into the industry position themselves? The statistic itself can be interpreted in several different ways, and not all of them negative, providing a potential roadmap for growth opportunities in the near future.

Training. Marketing professionals need education and training to help them fully absorb SEM. Savvy providers are creating service products around custom training, educational products and seminars.

DM News' Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Tools. Smaller companies typically do not have the resources to build custom tools to help them manage search, so there is a growing market for do-it-yourself tools that are easy to use and offer comprehensive features. Many of the current industry tools are fairly arcane, and opportunities remain in creating custom solutions for companies and verticals.

Consulting. One of the continuing values of using external professional services in any industry is that external resources often act as an objective third party to help isolate political and other barriers to success. This is especially true in search marketing, as it requires companies to be well organized in their efforts to win the keyword wars.

[Click the image to access a PDF of DM News' Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing]

Search 2.0. Moving beyond clicks and text ads, search marketers find themselves on the bleeding edge of new search technology opportunities as this industry morphs to include video/television, audio and mobile search. If Google does succeed in creating an auction for radio ads, who will best embrace the prospect? The same people who helped create the current golden opportunity: search marketers.

One thing is unmistakable about the survey statistic: marketers around the world continue to be very interested in SEM, and in building their capabilities to succeed. And Internet users continue to embrace search as a means to navigate the overwhelming amount of information available to them. That bodes well for search marketing overall. It has proven to be a fundamental and potentially permanent shift in the marketing mix.

However, there is an underlying message to service providers that shouldn't be overlooked. In this rapidly changing industry, search specialists must be prepared to evolve even more quickly than the medium itself.

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