Spending by North American advertisers on search rose 62% to $9.4bn last year, according to new figures from the

Search Engine Marketing Professional Organisation (SEMPO)

.

The group estimates that SEM spending – including paid placement, paid inclusion, SEO and the purchase of technology platforms – will double by 2011, at an aggregate spending total of $18.6bn.

Its ‘State of Search Engine Marketing 2006’ report also found –

  • Organic SEO is still the most popular search marketing tool, with almost three-quarters of advertisers using it. Paid placement was a very close second with 71%.
  • However, paid placement accounted for 86% of total spending, or $8bn. SEO generated $1.1bn in spending, or 12%. Paid inclusion accounted for only 1%, or $94m. Spending on technology platforms amounted to 1.3%, or $122m.
  • Generating direct sales was the top choice when respondents were asked about their SEM objectives, with 58%. Brand awareness was next, with 57%.
  • MSN is gaining on Google and Yahoo! in terms of paid placement, with 68% of respondents saying they were using MSN. Only 29% said they were doing so in 2005.
  • Unsurprisingly, Google AdWords continues to be the top search advertising programme. It is used by almost all (96%) of the respondents, compared to 86% for Yahoo!
  • One fifth of the respondents that had shifted budget to search had done so from print magazine advertising, while 16% said they had moved it from direct mail.

For UK stats, you can see our Search Engine Marketing buyers’ guide, which is free to E-consultancy subscribers. We estimate that the the UK paid search market  grew to £1.26bn last year, a 67% increase on 2005, while SEO spending reached £147m, up 50%.