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Display’s The Thing
First things first. Let me start by confessing that I run a search-oriented digital ad business. Before you think that this is just another flogging of search retargeting, indulge me one sentence. I’m here to tell you that the hottest area of Internet advertising is display ads.
Really. I know it from three very credible sources. First, our own business. More of our clients are collecting data showing the performance impact when customers who search for keywords are then met with display ads; this is a huge growth area.
Second, the stat people tell me this is true. In a 2011 study, Forrester forecasts that search spending will shift to display. The report claims that as marketers face high PPC for paid search, they will turn to biddable display media for more effective and cost-efficient targeting. According to eMarketer, display advertising spend will surpass search advertising by 2015; and according to the Forrester study mentioned above, display will account for 36% of interactive spend in five years.
My third source, surprisingly enough, is Google. Google, the company that has been all about keyword search and AdWords, is now focused on display ads and mobile search. I don’t believe mobile will scale quickly enough to be a search retargeting business this year. That’s another story. Google’s reliance on display ads for growth speaks volumes.
Don’t Count YouTube Out
According to SeekingAlpha’s most recent Google earnings analysis, “Because of the gradual slowdown in desktop search, display ads and mobile search are expected to be key drivers for Google’s future growth.” Most analysts expect YouTube to be a key factor.
Let’s not forget here that the user numbers for YouTube still rival Facebook, lest you think that social media is the display engine for this year. It has over 800 million unique visitors per month, which is as same as Facebook. In terms of monthly search, YouTube’s volume is 10 times that of Facebook. Google’s display revenue will exceed $1 billion for the 2011 fiscal year, and I think it will top $2 billion for the 2012 fiscal year, as well.
Now, what does all this mean for publishers, brand marketers and agencies? It means that search and display has an intersection that can be extremely profitable. While you’re figuring out the world of devices and social media, display ads are going to be served up at an ever-increasing level.
I’m going to argue that search retargeting represents that intersection of display and search. If a user searches for a keyword, and is then served a display ad, there’s two tracks of data that retargeting can address. If a user clicks on a display ad and doesn’t convert, now there’s another information trail to follow.
The power of display and search is formidable. One does not need to replace the other. They can live together quite nicely. Google told me so.
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