The SEM Agency Value Proposition

By David Gould, President

Later this month I have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion titled “In a World of Search Automation, What’s the Agency Value Proposition?” at the OMMA Global Conference.

This is an increasingly important question as a plethora of tools that automate the building and management of search campaigns are now available.

I’d thought I’d start the dialog early with this blog post.

Man vs. Machine

Clearly, the use of automated search tools is necessary in both building and managing effective and efficient search campaigns. Imagine trying to build and manage a campaign with hundreds of thousands keywords manually.

Leveraging the available tools, such as keyword builders, site scrapers, bid management tools and reporting packages make the task manageable and efficient. Using these tools is the price of entry for managing a successful campaign, but by relying only on these tools, marketers risk leaving a great deal of opportunity on the table.

Many people equate the internet, and digital marketing in general, with technology. No doubt the digital platform is based on technology, but in the end, digital marketing is just that … marketing, and marketing requires insight on consumer behavior.

That means drawing insight from more than just search based data to impact your search campaign. It also means applying search based insights effectively across multiple channels other than just search.

In a nutshell, marketers will require their search agencies to be more consultative and less hard core search executional in the future. So how can agencies do this?

Well I can think of three ways start with. For the sake of brevity in this post, I’ll start with just one way and roll out the other two in the coming weeks.

Marketing Integration

Integration and coordination with non-search initiatives is crucial in maximizing the opportunity of a search campaign within the context of an overarching marketing strategy.

Technology alone will help marketers maximize an existing search campaign, but it will do it in a vacuum. You still need people to draw insights and ideas from other pieces of the marketing mix and apply those insights to the search campaign to drive additional value and capture the full potential of a search campaign.

Additionally, to really capture the full potential of search, marketers need to leverage the deep consumer insights resident within search data and apply them to non-search initiatives.

Search should be seen as a feedback tool and a window into consumer behavior for other parts of the marketing mix. This aspect of search is one of the most underutilized aspects of search marketing today.

Consumers are literally telling marketers what they want. To ignore that information when planning a comprehensive marketing strategy is unfortunate to say the least.

Someone needs to coordinate the communication of search based insights to other members of the marketing team outside of search, including the team doing SEO. This requires true integration and human intervention.

Next week we’ll take a look at two more ways in which SEM agencies can add value beyond that of an executional nature.


Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.