Andy Beal has taken a stab at estimating the market size for online reputation management.
As a niche marketer, considering the niche for promotion of various products, I thought I would take a closer look.
The Overview Approach
- Do you classify things like issuing press releases as SEO, PR or SERM?
- How much does it cost a VC and a company CEO to spend time engaging in comments on blog posts about a company, and is that SERM or something else such as a marketing activity engaging an audience?
- Are the creation of linkbait and viral marketing campaigns looked on as preventative SERM or marketing? They can certainly be a liability if they go wrong, but when they are successful, there is the opposite effect
In many ways Andy’s estimates could be on the low side, and Trackur, a tool Andy has created and actively markets could be a good solution to monitor your brand online.
The Forensic Approach
This is an industry which is just bubbling to the surface, how can we determine whether it is a viable niche to be involved with?
I would love to show you some graphs, but Google trends doesn’t have enough data for some of the primary keywords
Google Adwords Keywords Tool
If Online Reputaion Management or Search Engine Reputation Management is a market with money in it, then there should be some aggressive advertising in Google. Most of the people involved should be highly proficient in Adwords already as many of them offer Adwords management as a service as well.
There is certainly some growth, but a large proportion of the search volume might be companies offering this service checking out their competitors, and their own rankings in Google.
The Adwords keyword tool does highlight quite a wide range of related search terms, but nothing compared to SEO, SEM, PR etc.
I know companies where if I apply the time they spend on reputation management based upon my overview approach, their costs for a single company might be as much as $300,000, without allowing for whatever time or money they have spent on custom tool development to service at least in part their own need.
At the same time they have reduced marketing costs – controversy is free advertising, and as the saying goes, the biggest problem is if no one is talking about you.
Based upon that information alone, Andy’s estimate of the ORM or SERM market size I would think is conservative, but Adwords tells a different story.
There are Adwords bids, but nowhere near the competition I would have expected if firms are really making a huge amount of money in reputation management. Maybe they all have as much work as they can handle, or they gain enough visibility through other marketing channels not to even bother with Adwords on keyword terms which are showing buying intent.
Based upon the Adwords market, I would almost pass on the niche as being one which doesn’t have enough search volume and marketing spend to be one worth entering under normal circumstances.
But it is a fairly new niche market, with unrefined terminology – potential customers might not necessarily use obvious search terms, and business is mainly on a referral basis or with existing clients as an upsell.