As a child, one of my favorite board games to play was Monopoly. I longed for the anticipation and joy of becoming the one with all of the power, the person who had the most money, and the person who had the most properties. In essence, the person with the most power. It was a great feeling, and I was very good at winning. Now that I am older, it still remains one of my favorite board games, but I question why that is. My husband beats me every single time. When I examine what my strategy as a child and compare it to my strategy as an adult, I can’t help but notice that I have become more cautious. I don’t buy every property that I land on, because I want to save money (my fake money). And after each game I lose, I always seem to hate the word “monopoly” and what it stands for, but yet I always want to play again.
Why do we enjoy the game of “monopoly” so much, but cringe and complain anytime a real monopoly enters our life? No one wants to live in a town where there is only one choice for groceries, gas, cable, electricity, etc. When there is only one choice with no competition, it usually means higher costs for consumers. When you car is on empty and you only have one gas station in your town, what choice do you have, but to pay for the gas at any cost? American society, for the most part, wants a choice. It is what America stands for. The right to choose.
The same mindset goes for search engine marketing. Advertisers, who use search as their main marketing choice, do not want a monopoly. They typically like the fact that they can choose from Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, Superpages, etc. As a Client Strategist, I often see the concern and frustration that my clients feel anytime they read an article or hear that Google prices are increasing, and rightfully so. I often get asked, “Is this going to effect my CPC campaigns?”, “Will my monthly budget go as far now?”
No one can deny that Google is still the dominant player in search engine marketing. A recent Hitwise article stated that Google had 68% of the market share. Nielson Online reported 127 million unique visitors to Google in May. The reason behind the choice of Google for so many is debatable. It could be out of habit. It could be because of their brand presence. It could be because people use the word “Google” as a verb- typically replacing the word search in a sentence. For example, I need to go “Google” something. Regardless of the reasoning, as long as Google is where the people go, that’s where the advertisers are going to go. And with more advertisers coming into play, it means more competition and potentially higher click costs.
With the economy as tough as it is right now, every advertising penny has to be accounted for. Budgets are being cut and unfortunately for most companies, testing new online opportunities doesn’t seem to be a top priority right now. I am not claiming a Google “monopoly” yet, but until people are willing to test new channels, how will you know that your advertising dollar is being spent as efficiently as possible? Do you want to stay where you know the eyeballs we are currently at i.e, Google, or do you want to take a chance and be one of the first find other effective channels. Test Facebook. Test YouTube. Test Social Media. Test vertical specific engines. Being safe and cautious doesn’t always result in winning. Take my current Monopoly board game skills as an example.
Go forth and experience the power of testing!