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Paid search continued to dominate digital advertising in 2019 with 39% share of spend

13 February 2020

84% of advertisers said they use or plan to use Google Responsive Search Ads

The State of Digital Advertising 2019 report released by analysts at SEM platform providers Marin Software finds that 2019 digital ad spend across industries was allocated like this:

  • Paid search 39%
  • Paid social 19%
  • Display 15%
  • YouTube 11%
  • eCommerce 10%
  • Mobile/In App 9%

Top strategic goals reported were:

  • Increase brand awareness 25%
  • Enhance CX 22%
  • Embrace omnichannel marketing 20%

Top tactical goals were:

  • Deliver personalization 20%
  • Embrace social media 19%
  • Optimize paid search 19%
  • Manage campaigns better 19%

Top challenges in search:

  • Hitting volume targets 29%
  • Hitting ROI or ROAS targets 28%
  • Integrating product feeds 27%

Top challenges in social:

  • Attribution 28%
  • Producing quality creative 26%
  • Brand safety 26%

Google was rated "most trusted publisher" with a score of 4.5/5, followed by YouTube with 4.3/5.

Top 3 industry challenges most impacting business:

  • Data privacy/Tracking restrictions/Ad blocking 22%
  • Video advertising 22%
  • Visual search 21%

Top trend: 84% said they use or plan to use Google Responsive Search Ads because they produce more clicks and conversions vs. Expanded Text Ads.

Most effective social ad format:

  • Video 32%
  • Image 26%
  • Stories 23%
  • Carousel ads 19%

Results are based on a survey of 460 digital marketing managers reporting $1M-$49M in annual digital ad spend across most major industries, B2B and B2C about equally.


Marin being in the "SEM platform" business could skew the results in favor of paid search, but probably not enough to change the rank-ordering of media they found. And their sample is of pretty good size measured by both numbers of respondents and aggregated spend. It bothers me though that top 3 strategic goals don't include "sell more stuff" or "add to bottom line". Are these marketers too far from the top? I have to wonder how owners and CEOs of these companies would have answered that question.

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External Article: https://www.marinsoftware.com/downloads/Marin-Software_State-of-Digital_2019.pdf

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