2016 State of Search report: Paid search dominates, but social ads are catching up

According to the latest State of Search report from SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), search ads dominate when it comes to digital marketing efforts performed by both agency and client-side marketers, but social advertising is the fastest-growing segment.

Released on Tuesday, SEMPO’s survey includes responses from nearly 500 search marketing professionals, including agency professionals, consultants and client-side marketers. The survey includes a broad range of questions around the types of digital marketing efforts being formed, industry challenges and metrics.

When asked about the type of digital marketing activities carried out, 95 percent of agency professionals and consultants listed search ads, as did 92 percent of client-side marketers. For agencies, this was a slight increase from last year, while marketers saw a 2 percent decrease.

Seventy-six percent of agencies and consultants and 69 percent of client side marketers listed social ads  — both sides doing more social advertising activities in 2016 compared to 2015. Social ads were the fastest-growing segment for digital marketing activities carried out by agencies and client-side marketers.

Search ad spending

When asked if they were investing more ad dollars on Google, Bing and Yahoo in 2016 compared to 2015, the number of agencies and consultants investing on Google was up in 2016.

Agencies and consultants and client-side marketers alike reported investing more on Bing in 2016 over 2015, but it was still far fewer than those who gave additional ad dollars to Google.

Paid social spending

Among its other findings, SEMPO’s report reveals that B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn and Twitter for paid social, while B2C marketers are more likely to turn to Instagram — with 53 percent of B2B marketers investing in LinkedIn ads compared to 13 percent of B2C marketers, and 54 percent of B2B marketers purchasing Promoted Tweets versus of 23 percent of B2C marketers.

Fifty-three percent of B2C marketers are buying ads on Instragram, compared to of 25 percent of B2B marketers.

The findings show agencies and consultants said “getting a budget” was their biggest social challenge, while client-side marketers said measuring their ROI was their biggest social challenge.

SEMPO says it will be presenting the full report at its 2017 Search Industry Forum May 4–5 at the Hyatt Regency in Miami and that SEMPO members will have free access to the full report. More information about the report can be found at 2016 State of Search.

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