Search Spend Is Up, but its Share of Digital Ad Spend Is Lagging

search ad spend

As the online marketing landscape shifts, having well-crafted search ads and a comprehensive SEO strategy remain fundamental.

Digital advertising is now firmly established as an essential part of the marketing landscape, but the parameters of an effective ad campaign are continuously evolving. According to a recent report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, search ad revenue grew in 2018, yet its share of total digital ad revenue dropped.

For healthcare providers, search advertising remains a vital way to reach patients. However, the IAB’s report indicates that medical marketers should incorporate additional strategies like SEO to supplement their PPC campaigns.

Search Loses Ground to Other Formats, but Retains Top Position

The IAB’s 2018 report found that search’s share of digital ad spending dropped slightly last year, from 46% to 45%. The loss can be explained in part by the persistent growth of video ads, whose share increased from 13% to 15%. Nevertheless, search is still the top category of digital ad spending, followed by banner ads.

Keep in mind that search ad spending – along with all digital ad categories – continues to increase. Search revenue rose by an impressive 19% from 2017 to 2018, reaching $48 billion. Video ad growth was even faster, at 37%. Unsurprisingly, mobile is king, accounting for 65% of all digital ad revenue.

PPC and SEO Hold the Keys to Success

What do these developments mean for healthcare marketing? Having a presence on search engines remains crucial for reaching patients, but the platform has become increasingly competitive. A successful strategy requires understanding both sides of search-engine marketing: paid and organic.

Search advertising, also known as pay-per-click (PPC), shows ads to users who search for particular keywords. It’s a cost-conscious way to advertise because you pay only when someone clicks on the ad and is sent to your site. Further, you know that the users you’re reaching are already interested in your services – after all, that’s what they’re searching for.

When investing in search ads, it’s critical to choose the right keywords. Precise, specific keywords typically have the highest click rates. For example, a patient typing in “weight loss surgery providers near me” is likely closer to booking an appointment than someone simply searching for “weight loss.”

It’s also important to pick the proper search engine. Google is dominant and its ads have the highest click rates, but Bing and Yahoo still control a sizable share of the market. On all platforms, ads should convey your message clearly and concisely – don’t try to disguise them as organic search results.

But remember that ads are only half the story when it comes to search marketing: the other piece of the puzzle is search engine optimization. SEO increases the likelihood that your site will show up in users’ organic search results. Since search engines rely on keywords, it’s important to incorporate specific, long-tail search terms into your site copy. Rankings are influenced by the number of incoming links, so share your content widely on social media. Search engines also rank frequently updated sites higher, so make sure to post new content regularly.

Search may be losing ground to video, but it is still the number one platform for digital ad spending. Moreover, digital ad revenue is growing across the board, topping $100 billion for the first time in 2018. Having a coordinated strategy for search ads, SEO, video, and other platforms is the best way to reach new patients online.

medical marketers SEO