Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has grown significantly over the last decade, with the industry predicted to be worth around $23 billion (£14.3 billion) in North America alone by the end of 2012.

This is according to a new report published by Econsultancy, which further estimates that the SEM market will grow by an additional $4 billion (£2.5 billion) in 2013.

This gives the industry an estimated growth rate of 13% in the US and Canada, which is likely to be reflected in other developed areas of the globe, not least Western Europe.

The search industry in North America has been consistently expanding every year since the first survey in this series was carried out in 2004. Back then it was worth just $4.1 billion, with a few spurts of growth registered in its subsequent history, although it seems that the sector might currently be experiencing another major period of expansion if the current analyst estimations are correct.

The report surveyed a number of business leaders in order to establish the state of the SEM market today, from the point of view of firms that need to harness it to increase their visibility in search results.

21% of respondents said that they found it difficult to hire the right kind of talent in order to carry out marketing and SEO in-house.

Unsurprisingly, 86% of those questioned said that the amount being spent on digital promotion would increase over the next 12 months, while just four per cent were anticipating that their budgets in this area would contract.

One interesting point made by some respondents was that smaller businesses are actually finding it difficult to formulate strategies involving SEM, SEO and, now, the new social media sphere of online enterprise operations.

Analysts found that those working in SEM are leaning towards an all-encompassing approach to marketing, which involves multichannel assaults and combines digital outlets with other mediums in order to get the results they need.

Marketers are also increasingly looking to harness data gleaned from various platforms in order to inform their future campaigns, valuing any statistics which can help them to get a grasp on the kind of consumer behaviour that either drives clicks or results in a SERP ranking slide.

While SEM remains a challenge for many companies, it seems that there are those out there who are more than willing to face up to it.

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About the author:

Alistair Harris is ClickThrough’s head of content. A double-award-winning senior journalist, Ali holds both the NCTJ and NCE qualifications and has more than ten years of experience in traditional press and PR. He has worked in digital marketing and SEO for the past three years and is passionate, enthusiastic and committed to quality.