Breaking: Search Ad Market to Grow by $4 Billion in 2012, $15 Billion by 2016

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We know that you were promised an article on which social media metrics you can follow, but – keeping in line with our resolution to stay topical and current – we felt that it was of more value to you, our readers, to present you with this late-breaking story on search ad spending. We will continue our series on social media metrics next week.

2011 might have been the year of lofty ambitions, but 2012 is shaping up to be the year of ambitious moves. A new eMarketer report indicates that search marketing expenditures are expected to rise by as much as 27%, ballooning the market by more than $4 billion. That boosts search spending from $15.36 billion to $19.51 billion. By 2016, the market will be at $29.11 billion, although growth will have cooled.

To be clear, search ad spending is when brands or businesses pay to place online advertisements on search engine result pages (SERPs) by targeting certain search queries, or keywords. Arguably, Yahoo! was the first to introduce search advertising buy in 1996 when a client wanted a more effective way of targeting advertisements inside search results. Yahoo! obliged and placed ad banners at the top of the SERP for whenever users searched for “golf” in Yahoo!

The results were successful, and a few months later, Yahoo! promoted the service to all of its consumers. Nearly 15 years later, Yahoo! has only a small piece of the market it helped create, a consolation prize compared to the multi-billion dollar rewards Google and Microsoft’s Bing have raked in over the past few years.

The eMarketer study forecasts that Google will retain its coveted position as search revenue leader and that its market share will increase from 77.9% in 2012 to 79.8% in 2014.


The report also predicts a steady decline of Yahoo! and AOL’s total market share of American search ad revenues – according to the study, Yahoo!’s share will dip to just 3%; AOL’s already paltry slice will shrivel to just 0.6%.


This booming search ad market means that now is the best time to start investing more in organic SEO content marketing.

Wait – what?

One more time: now is the best time to invest in SEO marketing.

This rising investment in search ad means that SEO marketers should be prepared to leverage the increased emphasis on search marketing by integrating emerging trends into their content marketing strategies. Why?

Studies have emphasized that Web users are up to 6 times more likely to click on one of the first few organic results in for a search query than on one of the paid search placements. An eye-tracking study revealed that users skip right over paid ads and begin by scanning the top organic results.

Some of you might be wondering, “Well, then, explain what’s going on here. If users are more prone to select organic results, why is search ad booming?” Because so many people use search to find businesses that there are still rewards to be gleaned from using PPC marketing campaigns, and because PPC, quite frankly, is easier. It requires less finesse and less understanding of the ever-fluctuating algorithms that power Google’s search engines (in 2011, Google rolled out more than 500 changes to its algorithm, including the groundbreaking Panda updates).

For the savvy marketer though, an increase in the search ad market means increased opportunity for organic SEO content marketing.

With huge events like the 2012 Summer Olympics in Londonand the United States Presidential Election on the horizon, Web users will be turning to search engines to collect information, and SEO marketers should be prepared to incorporate these events into their campaigns to maximize return.

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