Home  › Media › Media Planning

Agencies and SEM: Howdy, Partner

  |  January 27, 2004   |  Comments

For something so simple, search is pretty darned complicated. That's why agencies need specialized SEM partners.

I've spent the past week or two on a veritable manhunt for solutions. I need solutions in so many aspects of my job. I have an inability to staff correctly for reasons I can't control (and you wouldn't believe); there are offline agencies we work with that more or less want to do things right but always seem to do them wrong; I have clients... I won't try complaining about clients again.

My complaints usually fall on deaf ears. I had coffee with a colleague the other morning, a guy who runs the online acquisition initiatives for one of this country's largest retailers. We laughed, knowing there was nothing funny in it; we've been seeing the same problems for the past seven-plus years, and most people in this industry (maybe most of you reading this) are in the same boat. Same stuff, different year. More challenges but, fundamentally, only subtle changes.

So here I am, the day before my column deadline, and I think I've found a solution to at least one of my problems: search.

Search is the online agency's albatross in so many ways. Gotta do it but have no interest (or expertise) in how to get it done. Why? Search is incredibly complicated for something so simple.

We online media planners and buyers have been beating down publishers for the past three or so years. We've had no real reason to go outside the sexier online media buys down into the pedestrian world of search. There's no glamour, no tchotchkes (did I spell that right, James?), no free dinners, and, least of all, no free trips to posh events. Only results. Ones our clients keep demanding more of, by the way.

How do I staff a search expert or two when I can't staff a sufficient number of planners? I'll be blunt. I'm ready to scream it from the 29th-floor window I nearly jump out of on a daily basis: Agencies should seek a search engine optimization (SEO) partner.

Not just someone who manages a pay-per-click (PPC) buy on Overture and Google, but someone who also covers paid inclusion and provides consulting services for tech optimization requirements. Our clients have IT departments, so they don't need someone to do that work. But tech guys build sites the way they're told to, in ways marketers always have to fix. If we (or our partners) could provide the directions, we'd all win.

Why should we partner? Because agencies and search engine marketers (SEMs) look at things very differently:

  • Agencies establish budgets based on cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals, reach/frequency, share of voice, and so on. SEMs do it on "here's what it takes on structural demands and paid inclusion/click costs."

  • Agencies view search (though that's changing) as an afterthought or a necessary evil that pulls budget from other areas. SEMs view search as an integral, if not downright basic, communications plan component.

  • Agencies view PPC search as a way of covering the search bases. SEMs see PPC as only one of three pillars, the others being technological optimization and paid inclusion.

How do you select a search partner? Good question. Talk about a seedy underbelly. Companies all over claim expertise and longstanding this or that. Every one of them says it needs a 12-month engagement but cannot guarantee any results (at least, not for 90 days). Search industry organizations appear biased, in existence to move the industry agenda forward. It's a confusing landscape. And we media planners basically know jack about it.

Trust me, you can find a credible partner. As with anything else, do your due diligence. You need to get people through the door to see what they're really about. If they suggest they need a 12-month engagement, it's the first sign they should be shown the door.

Once you find a partner, you can seamlessly include significantly more robust search solutions for your clients and prospects while freeing up your team's time for planning and managing other campaign aspects. Additionally, you'll enjoy the results that come with a well-designed and -implemented, holistic SEO program.

With this solved, I'm off to find the next solution. I eagerly await the arrival of my brochure on Alpaca ranching opportunities in Ecuador. Beats a plunge from the 29th floor....

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Mark Redetzke Mark Redetzke is vice president of online media for Zentropy Partners, a unit of MRM (McCann Relationship Marketing). He's led Zentropy's Minneapolis online media department since 1999, where he develops integrated online contact strategies and oversees all planning and buying. Current clients include Nestle Purina, General Mills, H&R Block, Microsoft, Overture and Sprint. Earlier, Mark planned traditional and online media for Campbell-Mithun. He's a frequent guest lecturer at conferences and graduate advertising and communications courses at St. Thomas University; the University of Minnesota; Minneapolis School of Communication Arts & Design and the 4A's.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Media newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...