We spent a good minute scratching the ol’ noggin over these two charts from SEMPO’s 2010 “State of Search Engine Marketing” report. They show that this year, 47% of surveyed businesses said they handle search in-house. Last year, no one said they handle search in house. A careful read reveals a note stating that “in house” wasn’t an option last year. Since none of the other answers are appropriate for respondents running search in-house, and we don’t have one of those handy “n=” captions tipping us off as to whether in-house search marketers skipped the question or entered a misleading answer last year, we can’t actually compare results year-over-year. So why even publish the 2009 chart?
Focusing on 2010 hardly clarifies the issue. We’re very curious about search provider choices, but this categorization is confusing. How would Razorfish Search’s clients respond? With 96 full-time search people and an average tenure over three years, we undoubtedly qualify as a “paid search specialist” and a “SEO specialist.” Though search is only one of many digital services Razorfish provides, some clients perceive us as a “search agency” because help with search is what they originally came to us for. “Digital Marketing Agency” might seem to be the best fit, unless our client considers that Razorfish is a leader in experience design, site creative and technology — projects that don’t fit neatly under the “Marketing Agency” header. At least we can rule out “PR agency”!
One question for our friend Sara Holoubek of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization: Did you outsource your search survey to a “survey expert” or a “search expert”?