Keep your Ad Agencies Close, but Search Engines Closer

I happened to stumble over an article in a July 11 ClickZ newsletter earlier today and found the article somewhat impressive and noteworthy. It’s written by Kevin Lee and for those of you on the client side, this may be something to pay attention to, but is also applicable to those on the agency side…

The search marketing industry is immature…I’m not just referring to the fact that nearly all the companies engaging in search marketing are less than 10 years old. The industry is also immature in the way “partnerships” are created and maintained.

Kevin makes an interesting point straight off the bat. He’s talking about how clients don’t fully utilize their partnerships with their agencies, whether you have an ad agency, interactive agency, or search engine marketing agency. All of these partnerships are essential for helping secure your company’s web position in the marketplace.

This malaise can be partially explained by the fact most PPC search spending continues to be managed in-house without the benefit of any kind of partnership at all, according to surveys conducted by both SEMPO and Marketing Sherpa. Of the 3,000 marketers served in Marketing Sherpa’s PPC Survey (a larger sample than the SEMPO survey), “73 percent say they’re using in-house staff for PPC paid search.” The SEMPO study (conducted by Radar Research) broke results down by company size, using number of employees as the gauge. Sixty-three percent of companies with fewer than 500 employees manage paid placement search in-house; for companies with over 500 employees, this number drops to 39 percent.

Quite shocking is that this can probably be attributed with the fact that people that are hired at these companies pass the impression that they know how to do SEO, PPC, banner advertising and all the other tricks associated with getting your site noticed by the top 3 engines – Google, Yahoo and MSN. They may be the wisest of the bunch, but unfortunately most of the spending might be better spent on using your agency if they have a division solely set on providing quality SEM.

Your internal team that is highly skilled are dedicated towards doing some other work to help keep the company afloat and unless their work is 100% dedicated towards SEM, it might not be prudent to have them focus their time as there are always continuous updates to the way search engines notice sites.

HOWEVER, that’s not to say that it’s always good to send money out the door to agencies. This is not an advocation of agencies, but you’ll need to examine whether your team can truly do work better than the agency…

…Just one-third of respondents said they were happy (“moderately” or “very”) with their SEM agencies for paid placement campaigns…

Kevin closes up his article by listing several points of what marketers said who report being disappointed after trying numerous SEM agencies must own up to their own mistakes:

  • Poor agency choice
  • Unreasonable expectations
  • Unwillingness to pay an equitable price
  • “Dating Mentality” and a short-term horizon
  • Unwillingness to communicate

This article is a must-read and you can find it by clicking here.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.