Search engine marketing spend is about to become the "little brother" to display marketing in the next few years according to some industry experts. By 2015, these experts expect marketing spend on Display to be just shy of $22 billion while they predict search marketing spend that year will come in about $21.5 billion. Display marketing in this context includes online video, banner ads, rich media and the like. While I was surprised by this at first glance, when I think about the emergence of video, I become less surprised. After all, YouTube has become the third most popular website (after Google and Facebook) and is considered by many to be the second most popular search engine after Google.
What is happening to cause this trend and what does it mean to marketers? First, let's agree that in the world of online marketing, search engine marketing is an awesome direct response vehicle, and that's a place many marketers should look first. Now, that being said, we also know penetration of high speed internet service and the proliferation of wireless networks are causing our eyeballs to go online more than ever before. In fact, the young adult population is getting more content online than from any other source out there including traditional TV. That simply means as the years go by, more and more content will be accessed and consumed online than from newspapers, TV, radio and the other traditional media sources. Consequently, where the eyeballs go so do marketing dollars.
The prediction that Display will out-spend Search simply tells me that marketers will focus more of their branding efforts online than via the more traditional media sources. Online Display marketing is the equivalent to branding...branding through banner ad and rich media impressions, online video views, etc. Search engine marketing will remain a very critical tool in the marketer's toolbox but Display will become mature and an equally critical tool in that online marketing toolbox.
Plus, now with the ability to do Display marketing on a cost-per-click basis in addition to the traditional cost-per-impression basis, it just means this medium will grow steadily and quickly. As Google continues to put emphasis behind YouTube marketing, video development will become another critical element in the evolution of online marketing.
In summary, marketers investing a great deal of their dollars offline need to keep looking harder at online display marketing for their branding efforts. As our population becomes more internet savvy, and with the proliferation of tablets and smart-phones, branding efforts will go online like never before.