June 28, 2007, 12:00 AM

In a complex web universe, search marketers hunt for the right formula

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7Search focuses on connecting advertisers with what it estimates to be the 10% to 15% of web search traffic that doesn’t run through Google or Yahoo. This traffic typically represents consumers and businesses searching on smaller or more targeted search engines and web portals. 7Search feeds the listings from advertisers bidding on keywords at its pay-per-click engine to populate paid search results at its network of distribution partners, which consists of secondary engines and portals.

To minimize click fraud for its advertisers-a continuing topic of concern among search marketers-and to maximize marketer spend on search, 7Search validates clicks that come to the ads through the distribution partner network. It delivers only traffic that passes the system’s test. To further reduce advertisers’ costs, it sets its minimum bid price at one cent vs. a minimum bid increment of, for instance, 10 cents on Yahoo.

“Our customers are getting an additional boost of 10% to 20% more traffic, which turns into more sales or more calls to action, which turns into more money,” Meyer says.

Whether by targeting their audience in new ways, or shifting spending to increase return on investment, savvy online retailers will keep working hard to keep pace with developments even as search marketing options become more complex, experts note. That’s because search continues to be the juncture at which many consumers make the first move toward becoming customers.

Piper Jaffray Co. was among the first to predict search’s dominance of online marketing with its 2003 forecast that online search would see a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% through 2007. A recent Piper Jaffray report touches on search’s role as home base from which consumers explore and navigate the increasingly large web universe. Concludes Piper Jaffray: “Search is the new portal.”

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