According to emarketer.com, U.S companies are spending approximately 10% of their annual advertising budgets on the web today, compared to 7.5% two years ago. On the surface that doesn't look like a mind-boggling jump in online spending, but in the advertising world these types of philosophical shifts take time to develop - but when it eventually happens it doesn't take too long for the momentum to pick up. And that's exactly what we're seeing with advertising budgets.

Some things to consider:

  • Consumers are in more control now than ever before.
  • Brands are living and dying by social acceptance.
  • There have been dramatic changes in usage patterns.
  • Economy is down, technology advances are up.
Ten years ago, I sat in my advertising campaigns class at Texas Tech University listening to the professor preach about reach and frequency, target markets, cost per impression, media spending between TV, print, radio and newspaper, integrated marketing plans, surveying customers, and so on … all good points for a young, aspiring ad exec to learn but, not surprisingly in 1998, any insight into internet-based advertising and marketing was untold and unknown.

And so, 10 years later, the shift is upon us. And it's all good.

Advertisers are realizing the tremendous benefits of going online with their money. For one, search marketing is easy to track and allows you to quantify a true ROI unlike spending dollars on an outdoor billboard or magazine ad.

It's also non-intrusive compared to the 23 minutes of each TV programming hour that is taken up by unwanted commercials. The viewer is enjoying the program, investing their time to only get that time interrupted by a commercial that probably has little relevance to their life. Enter the greatness of the DVR.

With Search Marketing, the advertiser is not intruding on the searcher's life … merely waiting and prepared for when the time comes that the consumer is searching for that advertiser's specific product or company. Again, the consumer is in control now, and likes it that way.

The soaring popularity of social networking sites online has opened new channels for companies to generate brand awareness and interest. Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising and with sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the communication lines have never been as open or as far-reaching.

So, you may be like many business owners and marketers these days who are trying to find the most cost-effective ways to spend advertising dollars that will translate into more sales, better brand awareness and increased market share. The tide is turning away from traditional methods and heading more into the digital arena. The same emarketer.com study referred to earlier estimates that 15% of most ad budgets will go towards online marketing by 2013 … that's double the original 7.5% spent just six years earlier. A clear indication that the shift is on.