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Search Engine Incompetence – It Pays The Bills!

Published: October 29, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky

Last week Marin Software and Jupiter Research released a study that showed that large search marketers are frustrated by current search technology. In relevant part, the study noted: “Search marketing has become a strategic imperative for many companies, but the lack of technology and infrastructure to support search marketing poses a serious problem for advertisers looking to grow their PPC spend.”
It strikes me that there are few industries where buyers are frustrated that they can’t spend enough money. That’s like fast food restaurants making their doors too small for their overweight client base, or bars running out of beer at 7pm. It just doesn’t happen elsewhere – where there is money to be spent, sellers seem to find a way to create efficient ways of grabbing that money.
Google AdWords comes the closest to creating tools, support, and interfaces that enable advertisers to spend their money freely. Yahoo and MSN, on the other hand, have been embarrassingly bad at helping advertisers grow their campaigns with them. As I noted in a column a few months back, Yahoo actually withholds tools from advertisers who don’t spend enough money with them. Again, imagine McDonald’s telling a customer “sorry, we can’t upsell you on fries because you didn’t order enough hamburgers.”
As the Marin study notes, the incompetence of search engines has given rise to an entire industry of campaign and bid management optimization services, Marin being one of them. The study concludes:

While paid search market growth remains strong, our research shows that the industry has matured to a point where new technologies and approaches are needed to support and evolve large search marketing programs. Next-generation search management applications are now hitting the market and quickly gaining in popularity, which should facilitate increased spending at the company level and drive additional growth in the search industry as a whole.

Of course, this is a bit self-serving (this is after all, from a Marin press release, so can you blame them?) but the point is actually well-taken. As long as the search engines continue to fail at providing advertisers with useful tools, companies like Marin Software are going to attract new clients with ease. And for that matter, consultants and agencies like PPCAdBuying.com (my agency!) will continue to get inquiries from frustrated advertisers who thought that SEM was suppose to be an easy, self-service game, and quickly realized how complex and overwhelming the entire process is.

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