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UK Marketers Increase Search Budgets

Investing in SEO and pay-per-click ads seen as delivering best results

February 26, 2013 | Advertising & Marketing

Search marketing is an essential piece of the marketing mix in the UK. While mobile and social are newer formats that may get more buzz, search remains a stalwart for digital marketers seeking to drive traffic and gain customer share; mobile has even brought a new emphasis to search marketing, as brands seek to occupy as much space as possible on the search results page of smaller-screen devices.

Digital marketing firm Kenshoo surveyed UK marketers in August 2012 and found that fully 87% of respondents considered search important to a brand’s competitiveness, with half of marketers considering it “very important.” Brands that ignore search risk losing significant clicks to competitors.

Importance of Search to a Brand's Competitiveness According to UK Marketers, Aug 2012 (% of total)

In keeping with the importance of search, a solid 76% of brand and agency UK marketers said they had increased their search budget since the previous year.

The highest percentage of UK marketers (70%) emphasized the effectiveness of search for increasing web traffic. Over 50% also said search was very effective at increasing brand awareness and getting the brand considered alongside competitors.

Change in Search Budgets According to UK Marketers, August 2012 (% of respondents)

In addition, nearly one-third of respondents cited search as very effective at responding to real-time events, and just over one-third said search marketing was very effective at increasing sales. The results suggest that while search is best at staking out share and getting the brand seen by more eyes, it is also a tool marketers can wield more dynamically.

Among the search marketing tactics, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click search advertising were overwhelmingly seen as delivering the highest return on investment, cited by 81% and 63% of marketers, respectively. Mobile-optimized search is also gaining adherents, cited by the next highest percentage of respondents (36%).

eMarketer estimates that search spending in the UK will reach $5.65 billion this year. While search spend is rising at a slower rate than many of the other digital formats—understandable, given its comparative longevity—it’s still seeing approximately double-digit growth. This year search will grow by nearly 10% and next year by another near 11%. In 2016, eMarketer estimates search spending in the UK will top $7 billion.

UK Digital Ad Spending, by Format, 2010-2016 (billions)

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Check out today’s other articles, “Small Businesses Strapped for Time, Cash Seek Marketing Efficiency” and “Recruiters Rely More on Social Media for Talent.”


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