By John Eberhard

What does the current economic climate bode for the future of marketing media, and specifically, for traditional media such as print advertising or direct mail, vs. website marketing?

Pay per click advertising, using Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, MSN Ad Center, and Facebook’s pay per click ad program, has many strengths when considered against traditional media.

For one thing, pay per click advertising is so trackable. Using Google’s online interface, and particularly if you use their conversion tracking code, you can know which keywords are producing conversions for you (i.e. people who not only click on your ad to come to your site, but also fill out the form and become a lead or a sale). You can know which of your campaigns are producing conversions. And if you are running multiple ads side by side in a single campaign, you can know exactly which ones are producing what.

Not only that, but you can know exactly what your cost per lead is. And by adjusting your keyword list, your bids, your text ads, and your landing pages on your site, you can be remarkably in control of that cost per lead.

Another advantage of pay per click advertising over traditional types is that you can test a new campaign for just a few days. If no one clicks on it, you don’t pay anything. You can test something new for a short time and see how it’s going to do. Or test it in one state and roll it out to others if it works well.

You don’t get anything like that level of control or accountability with, say print advertising. You pay whether there is any response or not.

So what is the result going to be of the current economic climate, where advertisers in many markets are likely to have less to spend? I agree with Eric Qualman of Search Engine Watch, who writes:

“1. Online Marketing Spend OK

“As we’ve seen during tough financial turns in the last 14 years, proven online marketing channels are often the last to be cut because they’re so efficient. The medium is trackable to a hard ROI, so companies often shift a higher percentage of their total spend to online. Paid search and e-mail are the last two pillars to be cut.

“Some of this depends on which vertical (business segment) your company is in. For example, Proctor & Gamble is probably more likely to cut paid search than Hyatt.”

“One likely outcome of all of this is a permanent shift from traditional channels of marketing to online marketing. Yes, online marketing could become the highest percentage of marketing spend sooner than any of us imagined.”

Search Engine Watch is a great source for data on search engine marketing by the way.

So my advice is to keep your dollars in pay per click, search engine optimization and link building during this time period. Pay per click will get you the fast result and return on investment, while SEO and link building take a bit longer to get results but the return on investment is higher in the long run.