It is probably rooted in the world of traditional marketing. A company creates a product after doing some market research and then looks for an agency to “handle the marketing”. There is a little song and dance, some wining and dining a little negotiation and eventually an agency is chosen to get a 15% cut of whatever the media budget will be.
This same process happens when it comes to Internet marketing as well. A company decides they need to “do search”. We need someone to “do our search” for us. The same process often ensues. The merchant looks around, they talk to some different people, they look at different proposals and find someone who makes them feel comfortable. The search company talks about wonderful technology they have, how long they have been in business and lands the business. The good and bad thing about marketing on the Internet & search in particular is that it is so trackable. Big traditional agencies generally give their clients a sheet with clicks and impressions as if just putting any information in front of a consumer is valuable even if it is irrelevant.
What very, very few merchants, traditional and online (even search) agencies realize is that the success of a pay per click search campaign (or most any other online marketing campaign that is supposed to drive sales) is only fractionally dependent on the search campaign.
Internet marketing & search in particular is a conversation. Ads don’t convert people. They never have. A sales person, a trusted friend, sales material or product packaging convinces someone to make a purchase. A search ad that is generally limited to about 100 characters cannot sell someone something by itself. This is why click to call PPC ads have always failed in search engines and why they will always continue to fail. If the consumer just wanted to call, they would pick up the yellow pages, find a number and make a call. When they are on the Internet, they are searching because they want more information. A phone call is generally something that happens after a bit of consideration and research.
All marketing [should] start with search because that is what people do. People identify a need or want which may sometimes be spurred by an ad (but not a search ad) and they go search for information. The search may take place on a search engine, a blog, a store, in a conversation among friends, on Twitter or a combination of things. The search happens because the person has one or more questions they want to answer so they look to start a conversation. Once the person is engaged in a conversation the information presented to them needs to answer their questions.
The search ad serves as the bridge to get the attention of the person and then the site needs to sell them by presenting information the way they want to see it and the way they will be influenced by it to make a purchase or further engage with the merchant or organization with products or services to offer.