MediaPost has two article about paid search. The first one is good news for search engine marketing/optimisation business as the Merrill Lynch in a report on Internet advertising issued Thursday predicted that the amount spent on sponsored search listings will increase 47 percent this year to around $5.1 billion, from around $3.5 billion in 2004. Much of the growth will stem from the rise in broadband adoption, which as Merrill Lynch predicts, will result in more queries to search engines. Lauren Rich Fine, first vice president at Merrill Lynch says in the report:
[S]earch volume growth really has been the bigger driver of growth in paid search advertising in late 2004 and into early 2005. We believe this trend will continue as broadband subscription prices continue to drop, more users move to broadband connections, and ultimately conduct more queries.
Overall it seems that online advertising is gathering some serious momentum. Last week at the conference, the statistic of online ad spending as compared with offline has been bandied about a lot. Merill Lynch continued to predict that online advertising would reach $12.4 billion this year and $25 billion by 2009. My views on that are… well, I am not exactly jumping up and down.
The second article is about how major search engines do not clearly disclose which results have been paid for and which are organic, according to a study, Still in Search of Disclosure, by Consumer Reports’ WebWatch.
Interestingly enough, the study author, Jorgen Wouters, indicated that the failure to prominently disclose whether a marketer had paid to be included in the results misleads consumers.
Our previous studies have shown that 60 percent of consumers surveyed did not know that search engine results included paid advertisements along with non-paid results, and when they found out the truth, they were angry. Search engines need to understand that these practices and omissions, when exposed, matter to consumers--their customers.
Note to marketers… it’s all in the mind. It’s about how you treat your clients’ customers. If they are sheep or eyeballs that just need to be teased, entertained or otherwise manipulated into paying attention and buying the products you want them to, it will show. It has always shown, to be honest, but now the ‘empowered consumer’ can and does talk back.