Why search engine marketing might be soon superfluous

By Jean-Marc Noel

This is how users perceive search engine ads

According to the OVK online report, last year saw expenditure on keyword marketing in Germany rise by eleven per cent to its current level of some €2 billion. However, according to information from the Bundesverband der Digitalen Wirtschaft (BVDW – German Association for the Digital Economy), the Online-Vermarkterkreis (OVK – Circle of Online Marketers) within the BVDW makes no distinction between expenditure on search engine optimisation (SEO) and that on search engine marketing (SEM).

Yet it would be interesting to know the difference, because if you take seriously an Eye-Tracking study conducted by Search Engine Land, the American SEO/SEM magazine, the question must be raised if search engine marketing is still worthwhile?

The answer is yes – under particular conditions. Those conditions being that the advertisement is displayed directly above the organic search results. Whereas a glance with the eye-tracking camera at the keyword ads in the right-hand sidebar reveals that users just aren’t interested.

Go for the middle

70 to 80 per cent of Internet users ignore the keyword ads listed there. Search Engine Land has returned these findings with both Google and Bing. This insight is not particularly new, but the values are so high that the whole area really needs to be given careful consideration.

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By way of contrast, the ads located immediately above the organic search results draw considerably more attention for considerably longer. These are noticed by 90 per cent of users.

Nonetheless, specialists continue to consider SEM a justifiable strategy. By way of example, Fabian Haubner, Head of Marketing, PR and Sales at bloofusion, sees its usefulness as follows:

“As long as you can continue to use Google AdWords to reach customers in a cost-effective manner, I don’t see any reason to stop using it. Moreover, AdWords ads are a good way of generating short-term success, particularly for small online retailers. Because SEO successes, particularly in a highly competitive environment, are often difficult to achieve and take their time to come about.”

At the same time, Haubner also recognises the urgent need to adapt SEM strategies to the usage habits of consumers.

“The intensity of competition and associated complexity has of course increased in the Google AdWords environment, which is why companies should really take care to ensure that their campaigns are optimised for cost effectiveness. If this doesn’t happen they run a serious risk of throwing away a lot of money in a very short space of time. This is why I recommend that all online retailers get professional help from agencies, either in the form of a one-off workshop or a complete support package.”

About the author

Jean-Marc Noel is Founder and Managing Director at Trusted Shops, a leading European e-commerce Trustmark scheme for online-shops. A graduate of Ecole Centrale in France, Jean-Marc Noël worked from 1989 to 1994 for Companie Bancaire (now BNP Paribas) in Paris and Cologne. He then worked two years as a management consultant before becoming a managing partner of a consulting company in 1997. He co-founded Trusted Shops GmbH in 1999. In 2000, the German economic magazine, Die Wirtschaftswoche, named Jean-Marc as one of the 100 most influential managers in the new economy in Germany.

About the company

Trusted Shops is the leading service provider for secure Online shopping in Europe. Since the company was founded in 1999, over 10,000 retailers have been accredited. Trusted Shops offers a comprehensive service for the benefit of both – shopoperator and consumer, which encompasses Customer Rating, Legal Compliance and Money-back guarantee.

Trusted Shops

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