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Scan the search results page of any portal, and it’s easy to see why Internet search is such a tricky maze for some direct marketers to follow.

With “Sponsored Links,” “Direct Web Matches” and “Featured Sites” beckoning consumers, knowing which of these hot strategies is most effective at capturing attention often leaves marketers cold.

It may be easier in the short run to stick with simple banner ads to reach consumers window-shopping online, but direct markets risk missing out on important sales leads.

The vast majority of Internet users use search engines to find vendors or stores when browsing the Web for products and services to buy. The message for marketers is to consider how Internet search, if done properly, can quickly drive qualified customer leads to their Web sites.

Search engines offer a variety of ways for advertisers to appear in search results pages. In this article, we’ll explain the different options and how they can be more successful than other direct marketing mediums at customer acquisition and building brand awareness.

We’ll also offer pointers for adding search to your overall marketing mix -- whether you’re advertising online for the first time, or completely re-working an existing marketing plan.

Search Landscape

Determining the right approach to Internet search requires knowledge of providers and products to effectively target the 200 million-plus potential consumers now online. There are four different entry points direct marketers can choose, including editorial, algorithmic, paid inclusion and paid placement.

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Paul Schulz is senior vice president, marketing & general manager, online business at Overture.