"Search Marketing" or "Search Advertising"

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development

Is ‘Search’ marketing or advertising? Do I work for a Marketing Firm or an Advertising Agency?

As defined by Wikipedia:

  • Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. Every major medium is used to deliver these messages, including television, radio, cinema, magazines, newspapers, video games, the Internet and billboards.
  • Marketing is an ongoing process of planning and executing of the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) of products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations. Marketing includes advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement.

About.com professes on the difference between the two, stating:

Advertising is a single component of the marketing process. It's the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, product, or the services you are offering. It involves the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, etc. Advertising includes the placement of an ad in such mediums as newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and of course the Internet.

Sounds like we do both…but the Mythbusters wouldn’t accept that as an answer, so let’s break it down: PPC as a tactic is certainly advertising, but planning the budget distribution for banners vs. paid search falls under the bigger scope of marketing. Writing ads and building keyword lists is advertising, but combing over performance data and making optimizations? For SEO, we are building relevant content to match what folks are searching for (ok, we are advertising to spiders), but all of the research to identify attainable target keywords with high volume and high conversions is filed under marketing. Projecting performance…back to marketing. Using analytics data to provide insight into consumer behavior…marketing.

Marketing speak aside, RM is employed to 1) identify and corral qualified traffic to a website, and to 2) get visitors to complete the website goals in a cost-effective manner. “Search Marketing” is the common moniker given, but aren’t our tactics in the name of increased awareness to a brand/products through awareness (aka advertising)? We must use our advertising skills to corral that traffic and perfect the website to persuade a purchase. So is it “Search Advertising”?

But wait, we cannot execute any of these advertising tactics without being given a marketing strategy (by definition, advertising is a component of marketing). Given our specialized experience, RM is the one who typically translates the overall business/marketing goals to a “Search” strategy. Because we develop this marketing strategy which encompasses the various online advertising tactics, Resolution Media is a Search Marketing firm. The advertising myth is busted, right?

When asked what I do, I now understand why my mom’s reply is: “Jeff builds the Internet”. Maybe I’ll just avoid both labels and keep building the internets. ;)


Anonymous said...

Great that you brought up this topic. I always end up spending time explaining to clients why I spilt SEM (Search Engine Marketing) into SEA (Search Engine Advertising) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) here in ScreenMatter. My job just got easier as I'm gonna reference your post as it supports my thought process. Thanks!

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