A new study sheds light on the performance of SEM firms, concluding many firms are missing opportunities and failing to provide important services for their clients.

The study, a joint effort between Jupiter Research and iProspect, surveyed 636 qualified search marketers and 224 search agencies, probing for specific practices and methods used in the overall SEM process. iProspect released the findings in a series of three reports.

The first report, the "iProspect Search Marketer Performance Study," looks at how SEM firms evaluate employee performance. Though over 80 percent of all firms reported they evaluated employee performance using some metric, most looked at measures such as Web site traffic or search engine rankings rather than business results, such as ROI (define) and total sales generated from search engine leads.

Specifically, only 4 in 10 search engine marketers are evaluated on ROI or total sales generated by their SEM efforts, and just under 20 percent are evaluated on offline results generated by their SEM efforts.

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