Search-engine marketing (SEM) is the worst form of advertising. Sure, it's able to get in front of the right audience, but who is really being persuaded by 130 characters of text split across four lines with no call to action? Giving SEM credit for being the form of advertising that drives billions of dollars in sales is like giving the checkout person at a supermarket credit for all the food sales annually. The checkout person does not persuade the shopper to buy Coke instead of Pepsi, and neither do text ads.
I'm not saying SEM lacks value. Placing your text listings in search engines, comparison shopping engines and other places users seek out does remind your customers: "Oh, right, I remember them. They are who I was looking for." But, let's be clear, SEM is only part of the equation, as it is not persuading users to chose you over your competitors.
So the big question is: If SEM presents to the right audience but lacks persuasion, is there a way to actually advertise to the right audience?