Vertical Search an Advertising, Revenue Opportunity for Online Publishers

December 5, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Paid Search | Retail & E-Commerce

Some 93% of media and internet professionals say they would be very likely or quite likely to use a search engine that focused on serving their specific business or work needs, according to “Vertical Search Report 2008,” a B2B survey of more than 500 media and internet professionals.

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More than half (53%) said that faster access to desired information is a major benefit of vertical search; 50% say the focus on their business interests and workflow is a major advantage:

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The study by E-consultancy, conducted in association with Convera, examines the current and potential role of vertical search, specifically industry-specific search engines and B2B websites that serve the information needs of professionals. It focuses on…

  • The benefits and disadvantages of vertical search from the perspective of knowledge workers, publishers and advertisers.
  • How internet professionals are using popular search engines and vertical search sites for work-related searches.

Publishers wishing to have their own search engine face a challenge, however, because professionals are typically happy with the results they are getting from Google and other popular search engines: More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) say popular search engines are either excellent or good at delivering relevant and useful results.

“Publishers have an opportunity to gain search market share by establishing themselves as the definitive search engine within a particular niche or sector. The challenge for publishers is to disrupt this habitual use of popular search engines by producing a search tool which is better – and is perceived to be better – than generic search engines,” said Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy.

More than 70% of publishers perceived “reclaiming the online community from Google” to be either a major benefit or a minor benefit from vertical search.

The three biggest advantages of having a vertical search feature on their properties are the ability to “improve brand by becoming an authority website,” the potential to “keep users on-site” and the “potential to monetize through advertising.”

“Vertical search helps advertisers connect to their customers, thereby increasing the publisher’s revenue stream,” said Patrick Condo, CEO of Convera.

Publisher Revenue Streams

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The fastest-growing revenue streams for publishers in 2008 will be internet display advertising and online sponsorship, according to the survey:

  • Some 72% of publishers are expecting an increase in income from CPM advertising next year.
  • 67% are predicting a rise in digital sponsorship, while print revenues are more likely to flatten or decrease.
  • Just under two-thirds (64%) are expecting a rise in paid search (PPC) revenue.

Publishers and Digital Opportunities

The research also highlights the need for specialist publishers to react quickly to major changes in the digital environment in order to maintain and increase their market share and visibility:

  • 80% of internet professionals surveyed as part of the research are already using industry or sector-specific RSS feeds.
  • More than half of them (54%) have personalized homepages.

“Publishers are working hard to maximize their digital revenues at a time of shifting advertising budgets. Trends in digital marketing are leading towards a fragmentation of the online landscape and ‘atomization’ of content. Content owners have a great opportunity to increase visibility for their content through the effective use of feeds, widgets and toolbars,” Gregoriadis said.

“The level of uptake for feeds and customized homepages is very high among this early-adopter audience, but this kind of online behavior will soon become more widespread among knowledge workers across a wider range of industries.”

According to the findings, search toolbars for vertical professional sector would be widely used by survey respondents: 29% say they would definitely use one, and 51% say they would probably use one.

The three biggest disadvantages of vertical search in the eyes of the publisher community are “hassle of support and maintenance,” the danger of “pointing website users to competitors” and “resource issues.”

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