March 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

Marketers plan to spend 14% more on search engine ads this year

Spending on search engine marketing will reach $16.6 billion this year in North America, up nearly 14% from $14.6 billion for 2009, according to a new survey from SEMPO and Econsultancy.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Spending on search engine marketing will reach $16.6 billion this year in North America, up nearly 14% from $14.6 billion for 2009, according to a survey from the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization.

49% of 1,500 marketers and agencies surveyed in January and February plan to shift money to search engine marketing from print advertising. Among the advertisers looking to increase search engine marketing, 36% say they are shifting money away from direct mail campaigns, 24% are spending less on conferences and exhibitions, and 23% on are reducing other forms of web advertising.

“Difficult market conditions caused by the recession resulted in a relatively slow year for the industry in 2009, which was improved by a significant upturn in the fourth quarter,” says Sara Holoubek, outgoing president of the group, commonly known as SEMPO. “This momentum has continued into 2010, and we are expecting a return to double-digit percentage market growth in 2010.”

The survey shows the continuing dominance of Google, with 97% of respondents saying they advertise through Google AdWords, which places ads on search results pages, and 71% paying to advertise through Google on other web sites that participate in Google’s network. 62% of agencies and 56% of advertisers say the Google keywords are more expensive than a year ago. 32% of advertisers say the same about Yahoo and 29% about Bing.

Meanwhile, the rise of local search was among the most important emerging trends in search engine marketing, the survey suggests, with 85% of agency respondents rating local search as either highly significant or significant.

SEMPO carried out the survey in conjunction with Econsultancy, a research and training firm that specializes in digital marketing.

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