Search marketing was already a big business, but it's poised for even more growth this year, according to Econsultancy's State of Search Marketing Report, published with the not-for-profit Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization.
According to the report, search marketing hit $16.6 billion in North America in 2010, up 14 percent compared with 2009. This year, that figure will jump by 16 percent to $19.3 billion, said the researchers, who surveyed 900 companies and agencies around the world.
"The healthy growth reported for the industry in 2011--surpassing the 14 percent growth in 2010--is gratifying," SEMPO president Chris Boggs said in a statement.
Though Econsultancy and SEMPO didn't say which companies would benefit most from that jump, it's not a stretch to bet on Google. According to online marketing company SearchIgnite, which released its findings on 2010 paid search advertising earlier this year,spent in the fourth quarter. Yahoo and Bing, which the marketing company called "YaBing," followed Google by capturing 17.4 percent of search ad dollars in the fourth quarter.
However, search isn't everything. As Boggs pointed out, social networks are playing an ever more important role in marketing efforts.
"The industry is evolving to encompass much more than the search engines," Boggs said in a statement. "The increasing role of social media is reshaping the industry in surprising ways."
Facebook is especially important for companies around the world. According to findings from Econsultancy and SEMPO, 47 percent of firms in North America and 45 percent of companies outside the U.S. and Canada use Facebook's pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service. Consulting agencies reported that 74 percent of their North American clients are using Facebook's ads, while 69 percent of those elsewhere around the world are doing the same.
Moreover, 84 percent of companies say they use Facebook to promote their brands outside of PPC, which is up from the 73 percent of companies that promoted themselves through the world's top social network in 2010. Econsultancy and SEMPO found that 75 percent of companies promote themselves on Twitter, while 52 percent of firms use LinkedIn to raise brand awareness.
Getting away from social networks, the researchers found that 26 percent of companies believe local search "has been highly significant" in their online marketing efforts. Local search is also accounting for 23 percent of the average company's search budget.