Here is an interesting analysis from eMarketer that notes while Search spending is steady, marketers are becoming frustrated with the results. The bellwether of the online marketing arsenal is showing some cracks in the armor. To be honest, this does not surprise me too much. Online users are getting more savvy with regards to online marketing, and search specifically (clicks on banner ads have been in free fall since the first one back on Wired in 1998). In turn, searchers are clicking less on paid results and increasingly looking more towards the “natural” results. They are searching for relevant conversations about whatever it is they are looking for. Further, we are seeing the behaviors of Searchers change over time too. Queries are becoming more complex, more in the form of natural language questions, and we are seeing a big rise in mobile search. Add this together and the result in less “advertisable” Search impressions – paid search is not as effective in matching against such complex queries, and mobile search has less physical space to deliver advertising. With less search impressions, there is less inventory, meaning prices will inherently rise while performance declines. Not a good equation if you are a marketer.
But I think this is another element of a much broader movement that is going on. What we are seeing validates the argument that will be outlined in Bob Garfield’s upcoming book The Chaos Scenario, where he outlines the massive changes that are and will be happening in the media world. In part, he argues that while the customers are still out there, they are placing less value in word of the marketers (or institutions) and more value in the advice of other customers:
“They’re still an audience,” he writes, “but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you.
Interesting times, interesting times.