AOL Moves TV Spend To Search; Rodney Dangerfield Of Online Advertising No More!

AOL Wooing Users to Portal, With a Little Help From Its Foes
from the New
York Times looks at how AOL is ironically turning to search ads on rivals Google
and Yahoo to attract people to its new public portal offering. The story notes
how $50 million intended for television ads is instead going to search because
AOL realized search was already the biggest driver of traffic to its free music
site. Here’s a quote to warm the hearts of search marketers over the years
who’ve had to scrape, lobby, beg and plead for more spending on search:

“We started seeing the results and said, ‘Oh, my God, what if we took this
money and put it into search engine marketing,’ ” Mr. Miller said. Now more than
half of AOL’s marketing budget for the portal will be used to pay for ads on
search engines and formatting Web pages so they appear in the free search

So there you have it. Search, which I
the Rodney Dangerfield of no respect in terms of online advertising in 2001,
gets an endorsement from Time Warner. If you’re still dealing with some
marketing department that remains dubious about search — despite the continued
rise in spend — despite the fact that for a tiny, tiny amount of traditional
spend they could discover the power of search themselves — point them at this

And hey, point the Penn State to it, as well. Gary noted recent research from
Penn State yesterday, on how consumers are found to head primarily to organic
listings. Yes, search marketers have known that for years. But to say about ads:

According to recent reports, businesses spent an estimated $8 billion to
sell their products and services via sponsored links in 2004, despite little
evidence that such advertising successfully directs traffic to Web sites
More likely to hook consumers are the organic results or those results returned
automatically by the algorithmic operations of the search engine, Jansen said.

I bolded the key part. Little evidence advertising successfully directs
traffic to web site? Please. Search is one of the most heavily measured
advertising venues. Advertisers are spending because they know they are getting
traffic to their web sites, and traffic that converts. The rising spend is
direct evidence that it successfully drives traffic to sites. Spend wouldn’t be
rising otherwise.

Organic, of course, remains important. If anything, organic search is the new
Rodney Dangerfield of search. Despite bringing in more traffic than paid search,
advertiser spend on paid search dwarfs organic, as SEMPO stats
last year.

But maybe organic will get more valuable. At the very least, note that AOL
didn’t say it would spend only on paid search. “Free” search results were deemed
important, as well.

Postscript: Paid Search a Footnote in Push from ClickZ is a brief story that organic listings will be the big push in AOL’s campaign.

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