Why Advertise?

Exhibit 18.2   Organic click-through rates for searches, average across 10,120,806 keywords for 84,533 websites. Source: Advanced Web Ranking.

Search marketing is potent because it is exceedingly well targeted, aiming interested prospects, including many who have the intent to purchase. This makes search marketing more efficient and effective than marketing on social media. Not surprisingly, click through rates (CTR) are highest for search advertising.

Since organic results are free, one may argue, why advertise?

Firstly, high visibility on SERP is of utmost importance. As can be seen for Exhibit 18.2, click-through-rates drop exponentially across ranks. From a theoretical standpoint, the reasons:

  • Competition for Attention: Items at the top of a list are perceived as more important, and, in context of search ads/results, more likely to be processed.
  • Information Overload: When confronted with excessive information, people reduce complexity by narrowing down their options.
  • Primacy and Recency Effect: People recall primary information presented better than information presented later on. For example, for a list of words, people are likely to better remember words at the beginning than words in the middle. You can read more about these serial-position effects at Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial-position_effect.

Since it is difficult to secure a high rank on SERP, except for long tail keywords that are exclusively well aligned with your web page, marketers need search advertising to improve visibility.

Besides the importance of gaining visibility, marketers may prefer search advertising because their costs can be well controlled. Search service providers offer cost-per-click pricing where advertisers are not charged for impressions. They control how much they pay per click, and set budgets per day.

Accountability through analytics is another advantage associated with digital marketing, including search advertising. Analytics platforms track flow and support an array of metrics to measure results.

Lastly, quite importantly, even those who are confident of securing a high organic rank on SERPs, they may consider advertising to pre-empt competition. Top/high ranking sites sometimes place ads to occupy the ad space, in order to thwart competition.

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