The importance of Google AdWords and other Google-related marketing tools in the marketing mix is sometimes overestimated.
Have you ever asked yourself what percentage of your customers really come from Google AdWords? I am sure the answer will be different in every given case. However, is there anything besides (and above) Google?
First of all, let us look at Google AdWords in relation to organic search results. According to the Search Engine Journal, 80% of web users seldom or never click on Google AdWords, focusing on organic search. Clearly, as their online experience grows, most web users are becoming more and more immune towards web advertising and even develop negative feelings towards personal targeting.
Secondly, though the share of Google and Google-powered search engines in countries like Germany may reach 90%, in other countries it may not be the case. For example, the Russian search engine market is still dominated by the Yandex company (60% market share), the same is true for most Asian countries, where search traffic is driven by local search engines. Thus, the share of Google worldwide is well below 90% and, as I think, would be realistically estimated at around 50%-60%. Another point to consider is the aggressive competition by other search engines even in Google-dominated countries and the danger of the Icarus Syndrome for the market leader.
Thirdly, the share of web content indexed by search engines is very small (some estimates point at the share as low as 0,2%). The so-called Invisible Web or Dark Web includes specialized or password-protected databases and catalogs, data shared and posted on social networks, and non-indexed data formats, such as pictures or video content.
One more barrier to consider is what percentage of time your target users spend online, how often they use search engines, and if they use search engines with a clear intention to purchase something at all. The reason is that Internet is mostly perceived as a means of entertainment or as a free information source, which significantly decreases the ROI of SEM advertising.
And last but not least: how digitalized has the world become in reality? Has everyone in this world acquired an unlimited access to the Internet 24/7? Has the share of life we live off-line become so insignificant that it does not need to be considered any more? Have we stopped talking to each other face -to-face, reading books and magazines, watching TV and listening to the radio or just shopping at local shops? Naturally, no.
In conclusion, by writing all above, I am not going to undermine the importance of online marketing in the marketing mix or deny the growing size of the potential market on the Internet. However, in my opinion, the reliance on Google-related marketing tools has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for online marketers, the marketers themselves representing a (thin?) slice of population who actually actively use the Internet and can handle the Internet technology. A lot of things in online marketing are assumed without profound data on the on-line and off-line behavior of the target users or on the relative importance of the advertising instruments used.