Search Advretising and the Credit Crunch

There is no one who isn't talking about the financial doom across the globe these days. As search marketers, we are closely monitoring the effect of the current climate of online advertising. Interactive Return has made sure we did not underestimate what this may mean for Search Budgets, as well as overall online spend; and based on what I'm reading elsewhere, there is no doubt that more people will turn to the more measurable online marketing channels; but that we must proceed with caution. In doing so, we can come out stronger than we ever were before.

A couple of search gurus over at Search Engine Watch have taken on this topic and evaluated what it will mean for the future of search. Eric Kaufman outlines the historical trends of online spend, based on minor financial crises of the past. He predicts that the online marketing spend will be safe and that it will continue to see growth, since so many online marketing channels are proven efficient. Following previous problems in US financial history, paid search has been the least affected channel, most of the time. Big companies think in terms of lowering their cost, but focusing on more targeted customers which means eliminating expensive traditional advertising, and looking online; where people are actively searching for your service or product.

It seems the same will be true this time around. Paid search will be safe, in terms of growth and increase in spends, but you must remember that your paid search performance may not be safe. Kaufman outlines the fact that more people utilising paid search will mean more competitors, less total search volume, less keywords being searched on (only more affordable things), and more competition for a smaller pool of people who haven't reduced their spending on your product or service. Additionally, small businesses may find that they can't compete with bigger businesses that will be entering search with bigger budgets.

While Kaufman outlines the historical positive outlook one may have for the future of search, fellow Search Engine Watcher Kevn Ryan stresses how we must not count on search to be recession-proof. In terms of traditional marketing money migrating to more accountable means like search, online is safe; but it is not to say that it is not still vulnerable.

Ryan wisely suggests that we "don't spend less, spend smart" and he is right in saying that using this motto will help us prepare for the recession when the online and search markets begin to see the effects. Similarly, Alan Rimm-Kaufman writes on the times, telling us to "stay calm" while we ride out the recession.

Rimm-Kaufman suggests how we should respond, with regard to our online campaigns. He tells us to have clear economic targets, pay attention to what is being bid for keywords, shift traditional ad spend to stronger channels, and protect your bottom line first, to name just a few.

While these words of wisdom come to us from bloggers in the United States, the online advertisers in Ireland, like Interactive Return, should in no way ignore what the financial crisis means for us. There is no question that online spend will see growth at a faster rate than we expected; but Interactive Return will be paying close attention to what more fish in the search sea means for the performance of our campaigns.

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