Online advertising: SEO, social media and blogs have great potential

Newsroom 28/09/2009 | 15:51

“When we say search engines, we mean Google. Romania is one of the countries that generate the lowest revenues for Google. In more developed markets, expenditure on search engines surpass 50 percent of online sales, while in Romania they represent around 4 percent,” Mugur Patrascu, partner in iLeo, tells BR. By way of example: in Scandinavian countries, as much as EUR 5 is paid per click while in Romania, a click does not exceed EUR 0.3. With this in mind, Patrascu says SEO is a huge opportunity which must not be overlooked. Shuja Shaikh, managing partner in Kubis Interactive, tells BR not much emphasis has been placed on SEO recently, and evidence of this is the large number of Flash-based websites, as Flash is not search engine friendly. What is interesting is that smaller players are the vanguard of change. Many large companies still do not have a clear policy and well-defined activities and budgets for the search command, Adrian Stanescu, country manager of Thinkdigital Romania, tells BR. “Search is still the channel of SMEs. I think the display-search balance is still in favor of search engines, with the proportion double for search compared to display. But clearly, the best results come from campaigns that synergically combine these elements,” he says. What about social media? “It is important to note that, globally speaking, social media websites are visited more than any other websites, and they're growing exponentially… So it's definitely important for clients to have a social media presence,” says Shaikh. What this niche is lacking in money, it is making up for in the interest it has sparked lately, but which has not materialized into action of late. “Many believe that their simple presence on the networks will bring them success, but they are wide of the mark,” says Patrascu. At the moment, social networks are still far from attracting substantial budgets. “Using these sites professionally usually means long-term consistent investments. At the moment, no one is willing to take such an approach,” he says. One has only to look at the busiest sites on the internet to see which online media are attracting the bulk of advertising budgets. “It is easy to see that sites specialized in information (sports, financial and social) are suffocated with a multitude of banners that strive to come out in front, whether by legal means or otherwise. This happens because the daily routine of the average internet user includes one or two such sites,” says Petrascu. These are followed by entertainment sites and communities around certain topics. “At the moment investments in blogs go more or less where there is traffic or proactivity from the blogger,” says Patrascu. Unfortunately, a great many advertisers still make decisions based on personal impressions and do not take into account one of the advantages of this medium, which is measurability. “We can track web traffic, collect demographic information, and keep loyal customers informed for repeat business – so clients are able to analyze marketing strategies and quantify ROI for any given campaign,” says Shaikh.”I hope this year we'll see EUR 9 million spent on online media, with another EUR 8 million going on creation and implementation (the latter being my estimation),” says Patrascu. “I believe we can estimate EUR 20 million for 2009. Given the drastic shrinkage of budgets this year, the weight of online advertising in the total market may have increased (against the slowdown of the entire market) by around 4-5 percent,” says Stanescu, who sees 2010 as a turning point when there will be substantially more online campaigns. Interest has shifted from volume and visibility at all costs to efficiency, and here online is at an advantage as it can turn measurable results. “All in all, the online media market was one of the lucky winners, along with TV, and has evolved better than print, outdoor and radio,” says Stanescu. Still, he believes, the growth of the online ad market is not conditioned by the crisis but by the understanding of advertising and marketing professionals that internet consumption has certainly caught up with or even surpassed the consumption of other media. “Online was seriously catching up. For three years in a row, expenditure doubled in this medium. Theoretically, we should have evolved from 2 percent of the advertising market to 10 percent. There was talk in the industry about EUR 100 million which was going to be spent in 2012. Obviously, the recession has put a brake on this evolution,” says Patrascu. He sees a comeback for the market two years from now. “My prediction would be 2011. 2010 is mostly gone and it will not be able to prove a trend. There will be all sort of situations, several spectacular peaks, but overall, I would not label 2010 as the year of the comeback,” he says.

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