Ch-ch-ch-changes and the Evolving Nomenclature of Search

by on July 27, 2010

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On June 18th Google announced that it was renaming its Content Network. Henceforth we’ll be placing ads on the Display Network, a name more reflective of Google’s myriad interlinked online properties, including YouTube, Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps and Blogger.

This is just the latest evolution in the digital marketing space. Over the past few months we’ve seen the introduction of new Google AdWords tools (Search Funnel, Remarketing, just to name a couple), new advertising platforms from the competition (Apple’s iAd), new mobile devices (Apple’s iPad) and innovative new ad formats including rich media and video.

Online marketing is a jargon-rich discipline. There’s the obtuse geeky nomenclature of search engine optimization, like H1 tags and ALT text, 301 Redirect and A/B Testing, not to mention the alphabet soup of three letter acronyms: SEO, SEM, PPC, CPM, CTR, CPA… and so on. And with the introduction of new means of outreach, we keep adding new terms to an already long Glossary of Terms, while we refine or redefine legacy terminology.

So I though it may be helpful to take stock of the world of digital marketing, including taking a fresh look at what we call “stuff” these days.

Originally the umbrella term for all activities related to helping search engines (and their users) find a website was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Overtime, with the emergence of online paid search advertising and Social Media Marketing (SMM), SEO came to be more narrowly defined as all efforts directed at improving a website’s rank in natural (organic) search engine listings. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) emerged as the new term that referred to all the other search-related activities.

Nowadays the term SEM is often used interchangeably with terms like Internet Marketing, Digital Marketing, Paid Search Advertising and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). They are related terms, but they are not equivalent. Google took a stab at redefining some of those terms more narrowly in their newly updated certification material:

“Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of promoting and marketing a website through paid listings (advertisements) on search engines”

“Ads on most search engines operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning that you pay only when a user clicks your ad, and not for the ad impression (the instance in which the ad appears on the page).”

They use the more generic term Online Advertising to refer to ad placements on other types of sites, like those on their Display Network.

So here’s a visual representation of where all the pieces fit and how they relate to each other.

The Terminology of Search Marketing

 

The Terminology of Search Marketing

There are still quasi-equivalent terms, such us Digital vs. Internet vs. Online Marketing, but with the introduction of ever-new “digital” categories, I expect this to evolve. Social Media Marketing is becoming increasingly more diversified, and is likely to evolve more nomenclature to reflect the evolution into, for e.g. Digital PR in addition to Online Reputation Management and other forms of listening to and communicating with our customers online.

Given the pace of change, I will be interested to see how this chart will compare to reality 3-6-9 months down the road. It’s an exciting time for digital marketers.

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