Before the gold rush: the search marketing sector

18 Feb 2008

Search marketing expert Chris Sherman (pictured) tells Gordon Smith why the sector has yet to mature and how smart brands can capitalise on that fact.

After years of published work — including several books on search engines — you might think Chris Sherman would have more reason than most to talk up the search marketing sector’s maturity. You might expect him to peddle the line that any marketer not clued up on search has already lost the race.

Disarmingly, he does nothing of the kind. “We’re at a very interesting juncture. While search has emerged as a very legitimate branch of marketing, it’s still very, very young in terms of other forms of advertising,” he says.

As the keynote speaker at Search Marketing World 2008 in Dublin this April, it’s fitting that Sherman finds conferences a useful yardstick for gauging development within the sector.

“We’re seeing now, more than ever, that the people who are coming are new to the industry or the techniques,” he says. That tells him the market is “not even close” to maturity.

“We have a divergence. We have some people in the industry who are really sophisticated and know what they’re doing but they are absolutely in the minority.”

As with many minorities, they tend to be vocal — amplifying their knowledge through media such as blogs — but Sherman doesn’t believe they represent the majority of businesses and brands.

By Gordon Smith

This article appears in the most recent edition of Marketing Age, the bi-monthly official magazine of the Marketing Institute of Ireland. To read the full version of the story in the digital edition of Marketing Age, go to