September 11, 2012 /

Wakefield, Mass., September 11, 2012 — SEMPO, the world’s largest nonprofit organization serving the search and digital marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it, today announced the publication of a new survey, the SEMPO State of Search Marketing Report 2012.

Published by Econsultancy, the report is based on a global online survey of nearly 900 companies and agencies. This SEMPO study – now in its eighth year — is an aggregation of the information provided by organizations from 36 different countries, and from marketers and agencies across a range of sectors. The complete 72 page research report is available to SEMPO members; non-members may purchase the report from Econsultancy.

Overall, the report depicts a stable industry, without dramatic changes. Although the practices of search engine and digital marketing may have changed significantly as new tools, algorithms and platforms have come into play, the survey depicts very much the same goals in place.

Selected findings of interest, from both in-house and agency perspectives:

  • Survey responses show a drop in the blunt objective of driving traffic, but it remains a key goal for search engine optimization (SEO). Perhaps more interesting is the doubled number of agencies citing brand/reputation as a goal, up from 5% in 2011 to over 11% in this year’s survey.
  • As with SEO, agencies evaluating their clients’ goals for paid search noted a significant rise in seeing brand/reputation as their top objective. This appears to have come largely at the expense of “generating leads,” which nonetheless remains the top goal. The researchers surmise that for some organizations, especially those with sophisticated attribution methods in place, using pay-per-click (PPC) as an “assisting” channel that builds and supports brand terms and ideas has a greater cumulative effect on lead generation than campaigns designed for immediate returns.
  • As other channels move slightly toward brand support as an objective, the use of social media is maturing away from being purely a mechanism for thought leadership and branding-related goals. According to the study, companies are wisely not expecting immediate revenue through this channel any more than they were in 2011; they are focusing more of their efforts on customer service/cost reduction and traffic generation.
  • The North American search engine marketing industry is strong and growing: the survey projects a value of nearly $23 billion by the end of 2012, an increase of nearly 19% over 2011. The report also provides a preliminary growth estimate for 2013 of approximately 17%. While this represents a reduction in the pace of growth, it will likely still be the highest rate of increase in any significant marketing channel, offline or online.
  • SEO spending also remains healthy. The report details how much companies have spent on search engine optimization over the last three years: survey respondents have slowly but surely increased their budgets, and only 2% of respondents indicated that they spent no funds on search engine optimization at all.
  • Both clients and agencies expect robust growth in their PPC spending. Many of the largest PPC spenders are using in-house resources, and the top end of the spectrum shows the fastest growth: the number of respondents who projected over $10 million in spending more than doubled, from 5% to 12% of the sample.

“For the eighth year, our State of Search Marketing Report is delivering unique knowledge to our members about where our industry is going, which will help them chart their courses to success,” said SEMPO President Mike Grehan, Global VP Content, Incisive Media. “We’re grateful to the many people around the world who took the time to answer the survey questions so that we could paint this picture of their collective goals, plans and experiences, and we are proud to support this energetic and healthy industry.”

SEMPO activities center on education, networking, and its well respected research. To support its educational mission, the organization provides a professional-level webinar series, a “101” webinar series, and face-to-face education programs delivered through local groups that provide opportunities for members to network throughout the world.

“Over eight years the SEMPO State of Search survey has tracked the evolution of digital marketing,” said Stefan Tornquist, VP Research for the U.S. “It’s a pleasure to work with such a rich dataset that has many prior years for comparison.”

About Econsultancy
Econsultancy is a community where the world’s digital marketing and ecommerce professionals meet to sharpen their strategy, source suppliers, get quick answers, compare notes, help each other out and discover how to do everything better online.

Founded in 1999, Econsultancy has grown to become the leading international source of independent advice and insight on digital marketing and ecommerce. The company maintains offices in London, New York, Dubai, Singapore and Sydney.

Econsultancy’s research, events, online resources and training programs help its 130,000+ members make better decisions, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings and accelerate their careers.

SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search and digital marketing industry and the marketing professionals engaged in it. Its purpose is to provide a foundation for industry growth through building stronger relationships, fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research, and creating a better understanding of search and its role in marketing.

SEMPO includes thousands of professionals across 50 countries. The organization’s mission is to represent the common interests of companies and consultants worldwide and provide them with a voice in the marketplace. SEMPO’s education and outreach initiatives are funded in part by Google, Baidu, Catalyst Online, Digital Brand Expressions and WordStream and supported through partnerships with SMX, SES, OMS, MediaPost and GroupM Search. For more information or to join the organization, visit

SEMPO Media Contact Information:
Clare Madden,
+1 781-876-6265

Related Posts