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Paid Search Gets Majority Of Digital Budget Amid Privacy, Tracking, Ad-Blocking Concerns


Online Marketing



It’s hardly surprising that data privacy, tracking, and ad blocking top the list of concerns for digital advertisers.

Video advertising follows, with visual search, ad fraud, and brand safety close behind. Other concerns include influencer marketing, messaging apps and bots, attribution and cross-channel measurement, shoppable images and shopping ads, and improved offline and in-store measurement, according to a study released Thursday from Marin Software.

The report analyzes responses from more than 450 B2B and B2C digital marketing professionals in the U.S. and the UK to understand their top priorities, challenges and opportunities for 2019. 

The data confirms that paid search remains the dominant digital ad channel -- taking 39% of the total budget, at least among Marin’s clients, where paid social trails with 18% and display with 16%.

Despite a healthy lead in paid search, marketers still face challenges such as hitting paid-search volume targets, accurate attribution of paid social, and leveraging audience data with ecommerce, according to Marin Software's State of Digital Advertising 2019 report.

Marketers cite three main challenges when it comes to their search campaigns. They are challenged to hit specific volumes, achieve investment and return on ad-spend targets, and integrate product feeds.

Since social also falls high on the list of channels used by digital marketers, many marketers try advertising on Instagram. Some 61% of those surveyed expect their budget for Instagram to increase this year, with 67% of the respondents saying the amount spent will come from new money rather than budgets allocated to Facebook. The remainder believe the funds will transfer to Instagram from Facebook.

There also are three main challenges for social, including attribution and cross-device measurement, generating quality creative like video, and brand safety.

YouTube at 11%, mobile at 9%, Amazon at 8%, and ecommerce at 4% also are the channels that digital marketers plan to use.

About 60% of those participating in the survey look to increase the amount spent on Amazon during the next year, with 55% acknowledging they began advertising on Amazon to gain significant growth opportunity.

Despite marketers pouring more of their budget into Amazon, many consider the platform less sophisticated than Facebook or Google. Only 37% say the campaign management tools on Amazon are not optimal, and 23% say the reporting tools are not as established as other channels.

There’s a learning curve, too. About 30% of the marketers participating in the survey say the lack of expertise with Amazon ads is the primary reason they are not yet using the platform, so there is clearly a significant skills gap to close. 

When asked to cite the formats that marketers use most on Amazon, 43% cited Amazon DSP, 40% cited Sponsored Products, and 39% cited Sponsored Brand.

The three challenges for those using Amazon’s ad technology include leveraging first- and third-party data, understanding the platform’s advertising techniques, and gaining performance similar to other forms of advertising.

When it comes to trust, Google wins as the most trusted at 4.5 out of 5. YouTube comes in at 4.3, Amazon at 4.2, Facebook at 4.1, Instagram at 4.1, Twitter at 3.7, Bing at 3.7, Pinterest at 3.6, and Verizon at 3.4.