Based on what I’ve seen across my diverse set of clients, and talking to others in the industry, I’m predicting 2017 will be another great year for paid search. One of the reasons is a bit unusual: a flight to quality online media driven in part by “fake news,” “Methbot” and advertisers’ realization that they prefer not to have their advertising associated with those sites, don’t want their advertising positioned with that content, and in some cases have ethical concerns about supporting the publishers.
So, let’s look a bit further into this flight to quality. I’ve spoken to a number of advertisers who are concerned about being associated with, or seen as supporting, fake news sites with their display media buys. To some extent, the explosion of fake news has created a flight to quality within not only display advertising, but across the overall digital budget.
Meanwhile, Facebook has eroded the perception of data accuracy for any of its reporting. This may have a chilling effect on Facebook spend growth. (Although most direct response advertisers rely more on their post-impression and post-click metrics than they do the suspect data coming out of the FB interface. Brand advertisers may be more sensitive to the measurement issues and push for third-party measurement or perhaps for MRC certification/audit. Therefore, I think any deceleration in ad spend growth at Facebook is probably temporary.)
That’s great news for paid search — because when we think about trustworthy sites and publishers, where the context of the page won’t reflect poorly on the advertiser, there’s nothing better than SEM. I’ve even spoken to advertisers who proactively raised SEM budgets while cutting back on display surgically (with an eye to low-quality and fake news sites).
Therefore, while SEM and SEO have been around for a long time, and at this point it’s hard to imagine a surge of interest in SEM and SEO, I believe that the flight to quality is just one of a variety of factors that have aligned to renew interest in search marketing in 2017 and beyond.