We may be in a recession, but that isn't stopping marketers from spending on search. According to the new 2008 annual survey and forecast from the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO), spending on search engine marketing in North America is expected to hit $26 billion by 2013, up from $13.5 billion in 2008.

Although this target is lower than SEMPO's previous estimates, the organization is predicting an upswing in spending as the economy recovers in 2011 and as marketers become more interested in new search technologies. SEMPO contracted with Radar Research and Intellisurvey to conduct the study, "The State of Search Engine Marketing 2008."

More positive news from the report: Poaching of other, mostly traditional, media budgets for search is tapering off as new budget dollars are being allocated to SEM.

Among its other key findings:

  • More than half of respondents (54%) report they were either "very" or "moderately" happy with their SEM agencies for paid placement campaigns in 2008, an increase from 2007.
  • Primary objectives for paid SEM spending are increased brand awareness (63%) and direct sales (61%).
  • SEM spending is forecast to reach $14.7 billion in 2009, $16.7 billion in 2010 and $19.8 billion in 2011.

The Point: The sky's still the limit! With only 14% of advertisers planning to spend less in 2009 than they did in 2008, it's clear that paid search should remain a hot line item in marketing budgets. 

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