Personally, I've always considered SEM to be the somewhat unglamorous side of digital advertising (thats not saying that I do not recognise its value and potential), however, it seems to be gaining more and more media attention recently, and I've definitely noticed an increase in specialist search agencies and positions available within search marketing based roles. The fact that we are amidst a gloomy recession coupled with the relatively cheap cost of running an effective search based strategy has undoubtedly influenced SEM's popularity.
I can see now that I may have been a little naive in classing SEM as being completely 'un-creative', yes there is an absence of any real creative content, however, I believe that the true challenge lies in thinking creatively in order to boost search engine optimisation (SEO).
The recent attention also seems to have people thinking about how this medium can progress and develop. Yahoo Search have launched 'rich ads' in search which allows brands to include video and image ads within paid search results. This development also opens the door to creative content which is surely a good thing?