Will spending for display ads soon overtake paid search?

Up until this point, it is fair to say that the vast majority of marketers have spent more money on paid search than display ads. However, according to research from eMarketer, this could soon change.

Having aggregated marketing industry data from multiple sources, eMarketer predicts that total spending for display ads in 2016 will reach $32.16bn in the US alone. On the other hand, search ad spending will come in at $29.24bn.

In fact, display is expected to continue this dominance for many years to come, but what are the reasons behind paid search’s diminishing spend?

Search engine query volume has levelled out

Even though paid search spend isn’t directly concerned with query volume, it can still be a huge factor as far as marketing budgets are concerned. Therefore, the fact that Google query growth has levelled out over the past few years could be an indication that allocating more funds for paid search is a waste of time.

Paid search is a pull medium, which requires the consumer to do something in order to trigger an ad. However, it is extremely unlikely for Internet users to suddenly increase the number of searches they conduct every day.

The availability of display ads

As opposed to paid search, display can be categorised as a push channel, as there are some 47 billion web pages on the Internet with advertising opportunities. This profusion of choice also plays into the hands of marketers, as display publishers will do whatever they can to tempt you into buying their advertising inventory.

Publishers may use in-house teams to put deals together, offer self-service platforms similar to paid search, or work with ad networks and yield management partners to push their inventory into reselling channels.

Tighter marketing budgets

Around a decade ago, paid search teams were usually given the biggest portion of a digital marketing budget. But these days, with so many other promotional and publicity platforms to choose from, such as display, every single penny is being heavily scrutinised.

So, while paid search remains a highly measurable medium that can prove investment easily, marketers want their spend to deliver the best results possible.

Display has evolved into a more attractive option

With things like advanced attribution and verification systems, display has shaken off its bad reputation and evolved into a more attractive option. Marketers now have the ability to view their display ads’ total contribution as well.

The programmatic revolution has also helped, with numerous data vendors now helping to drive advanced targeting, which will soon account for 72 per cent of the display market.

The inability to scale paid search

Digital marketing budgets are increasing all the time, but paid search can’t scale up with the same levels of efficiency. Some advertisers will have already maxed out paid search and hit the law of diminishing returns.

Although you can fill campaigns with additional fringe keywords, they will never covert as well as your primary terms. There are still countless benefits and lots of value to be had with paid search, but the limitless opportunities of display require just as much attention.

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