By Adam Riff | @AdamRiff | SVP, Digital Strategy
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of an op-ed that was originally published in Advertising Age.
When it was reported in early May that social advertising had overtaken search, many in the search-marketing industry reacted with disbelief. Some wished to take up a protracted battle with social-media marketers over whose turf reigns supreme.
Sadly, much of the discussion completely missed the point of what this data tell us: the age of the “walled garden” approach to search marketing is over. Let us all rejoice. The search-vs.-social debate is a worthless pursuit. Brands don’t care, nor should marketers.
The future of search marketing will demand a blend of many different digital-marketing components — traditional search, retargeting, display, etc. — that must reach audiences across a wide swath of media, as consumers use many different devices to search for content across multiple platforms and interfaces.
Marketers need to focus on how well they are integrating social within search, and vice versa. It’s not an either-or debate. There are two reasons this is true.
Social Signals. In the old days of search — that is, pre-2012 — many brands and agencies kept their search-marketing campaigns, both organic and paid, separate from social-media campaigns. They feared that mixing the two might alienate the respective audiences of what are sometimes highly distinct customer bases.
But that’s all in the past. Social signals and the rapid expansion of the digital-advertising industry are forever altering the search-marketing landscape — for the better. While still a relatively small portion of search marketing, social signals – the signals from Google +, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that Google considers in its algorithm — are already being optimized for by sophisticated search marketers. More broadly, the digital-advertising industry is poised to reach $39.5 billion in 2012, according to eMarketer, and will overtake TV advertising spend by 2016. That’s too big a pot to be arguing over.