As the overall U.S. ad market slumps, online advertising—and search in particular—is the bright spot. And no search company shines brighter than Google, which dominates the category in ad revenue, market share and number of searches.
During a time when many media properties are experiencing declining ad revenue, Google reported first-quarter revenue of $5.1 billion, up 42% from the year-earlier period. In March, Google captured 58.7% of the U.S. search market, with an estimated 4.8 billion searches, according to Nielsen Online.
These staggering numbers make Google a powerful media vehicle for b2b advertisers.
"Google is critical to reaching a business-to-business audience because it continues to gain incremental share domestically and abroad," said Jon Schaaf, VP-media at HSR Business to Business, Cincinnati.
Phone: (650) 253-0000
Traffic: 136 million unique monthly visitors++
Ad revenue: $16.5 billion
Ad rate: N/A
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"When we're developing an integrated marketing plan, targeting Google within both the paid and organic search results is at the top of the list because it is the industry standard. The question is no longer "Does Google fit into the strategy?' but rather "Other than Google, what destinations are relevant?' ""
Schaaf said the agency is keeping an eye on new ad platforms from Google, such as click-to-play video, which lets advertisers place video ad units within the Google network and bid on placement within search results.
Google is developing other video ad formats as well. In February, it released a beta version of AdSense for video, which lets advertisers run contextually relevant ads in the bottom fifth of video content running on publishers' sites and on Google-owned YouTube.
It is also expanding its offerings in display advertising, ad management and reporting through its $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, which closed last month.
"This will allow us to deliver more integrated reporting that media buyers have been requesting," said Mark Martel, senior industry marketing manager of technology and b2b markets for Google. "It will help us deliver advanced ad serving, targeting and measurability."
Other media buyers and marketers agree that Google is a must-buy in their media plans.
"Google just scales for us tremendously," said Carl Fremont, exec VP-media at interactive agency Digitas. He said the agency uses search engines and portals including Google, AOL, Yahoo and MSN to provide base coverage for b2b campaigns, combined with ads on news and content sites to provide contextual messaging and targeting.
And while this blend of sites is important to provide a broad mix for its clients, "Google is the one place we go to really achieve scale in our programs, using AdWords and keywords," Fremont said.
Google continues to develop more targeted search opportunities for marketers. In March, it introduced a "site search box," which appears on Google's search results page and gives users an opportunity to further refine their search.
While this feature has gotten mixed reviews from marketers because it lets competitors run ads on search results pages—even if the search is for a specific company—some marketers believe it enhances the search experience.
"This feature provides an additional way for my customers to find the right content on my site, and I have to view that as a good thing," said Brian Alpert, search marketing manager at Texas Instruments.
Martel said that while advertisers are expressing interest in emerging platforms such as video and mobile, the core value of the business remains keyword search and display advertising on sites in Google's content network.
"As more and more marketers are becoming much more "digitalcentric,' " he said, "there is still a huge amount of work we are doing to educate the market about basic digital media usage and search usage to help marketers and agencies build their brands."
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