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Old 11-05-2004   #1
Joseph Morin
 
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Ad:Tech New York

Next week November 8 - 10. Anyone from here going?

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Old 11-05-2004   #2
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I'll be there; anyone who wants to try to hook up informally (I'm thinking about coffee or just buying you a free drink at one of the sponsored parties in the company of fellow SEM's on the Monday evening), PM me or email me so we can exchange cell #'s. I've never been to Ad Tech but I hear there will be 4,000+ attendees.
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Old 11-05-2004   #3
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Hi Joe,

I will be be there. Trying to sort out the details etc.
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Old 11-08-2004   #4
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Joe, Andrew (or anyone), great if you want to give us some rustybrick-style "live" reports on search talk out of the show.
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Old 11-08-2004   #5
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Live from ad:tech

Consider it done. Although this will be a very partial report.

Prologue: ...how I finally got there (good thing I'm my own boss or I'd be fired for this narrative):

My Sunday night departure from Toronto had been rescheduled from 6:50 to 7:40, and while in the air, we decided we'd hang out in a holding pattern for an extra half hour. Add in taxiing time, and the poor decision to take the "SuperShuttle" instead of a cab (nice tour of the city -- I was the 9th person dropped off), and I actually got in really late and hungry, just in time to see a 106-yard interception return by Ed Perry of the Ravens, which had a decisive and positive impact in the outcome of my week in fantasy football.

All of this was already playing havoc with my plan to be rested the next day, so I ordered a $26 burger and a half-bottle of red wine to celebrate the Ed Perry touchdown. In my orgy of consumption I may have also ingested a Caesar salad. After unplugging a bar fridge that was ticking like a bomb, I went on to read my trashy book-du-jour until I eventually got sleepy.

Sure enough, when a.m. rolled around, the first session didn't look as important as email and lolling around doing nothing. I eventually made it to the conference to check out the action.

I saw a couple of interesting sessions, anyway.

SELECTING A SEARCH AGENCY

Panelists offered advice to mostly larger companies seeking to hire a search engine marketing agency.

Anne Holland of MarketingSherpa was the most nitty-gritty of these. Anne's inimitably frank descriptions of some of the characteristics of different-sized firms hit home -- perhaps too close to home. I did think it was an interesting point that some larger SEM agencies are heavy with salespeople and might only have 2-3 people actually "doing the work." As someone who is the only salesman in a firm with 5-6 full-time account managers, I felt like maybe we have at least that healthy "service ratio" going for us.

Anne's talk was "pro-SEM" insofar as she emphasized that a lower price can only mean one thing -- you're getting fewer hours. She reminded the audience that the "top end of the range" for SEM is not, as one correspondent blithely told her, "$12,000 per year," but more like 10X that. Not all projects or companies can afford this and not all sites warrant spending top dollar, but the point was well made. Basically, if someone with real analytical skills and expertise is making somewhere between $40 and $200 per hour, that's going to result in the final price tag one way or another. The implied message is that "fit" and "continuity," along with a proven track record and the expectation of strong ROI, are more important than price per se.

The panelist from AT&T Wireless, Les Kruger, who went through a careful process of selecting SEM vendors, had a rather interesting perspective. He not only wanted to meet with the director of the company who was providing the services, he wanted to meet face-to-face with the people doing the work.

Kruger admitted to using fairly rigorous background check tactics to ensure full due diligence before proceeding with a vendor. Not only did he ask for a long list of references, choosing a few at random to ensure the list wasn't a short list of "seeded" refs, he suggested doing things like finding people who have left the company to ask them questions about the operation.

Sindy Braun of Webex told a tale which will be familiar to most consultants on this forum: her company's challenges are "so unique" that a really strong, dedicated, intelligent firm needed to be hired. (One hears this so often from companies without particularly unique challenges, one wonders if it's really true. But it is undoubtedly true that some consulting shops are very inflexible in their methods, and likely have poor communication skills, so of course Webex is right to find a relationship that suits their advanced needs.) After announcing that the company had worked with WebMama.com, she went into a lengthy description of the conditions of a successful working relationship with an SEM firm.

Hers was a detailed presentation which affirmed the value of SEM. The company's cost-per-lead online is much better than in any other channel.

One of Braun's points was interesting: she expected full ongoing attention to her project, considering the SEM agency "the same as a member of my team."

This raises the question of boundaries and ground rules in any consulting relationship, and whether additional phone time is considered billable or is taken as an informal relationship thing. Not surprisingly these were not discussed by the client-centric panel.

On the whole, panelists were open to the strengths of both full-service agencies and "boutique SEM's." Some clients like to hire both. One did get a sense of an overarching disdain for the smaller SEM shop (Holland said "they see the dollars and they want your money"). As far as 90% of the people in this room were concerned, I suspect they'd be fine with it if the preponderance of boutique SEM firms were roadkill in the near term.

In the Q&A I asked Les Kruger whether he had had success with one of the stated components of his campaigns, bid management, and he said yes, the results improved 20-30% as a result of implementing this technology. He would not say whether they went with a leading "rules-based bidding" vendor or a leading "portfolio management" vendor, only that it was one of the two.

Session chair Rebecca Lieb closed by pointing to some key resources such as ClickZ.com, MarketingSherpa, and SearchEngineWatch.com.

--

Looks like I have to run.
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Old 11-08-2004   #6
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That is some fine reporting. Sorry to hear about your flight and cab ride, hope the trip back is better.
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Old 11-09-2004   #7
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I ran into Joseph Morin and a few other familiar faces at the Overture mixer... and started some heavy negotiations with Overture International to guanarantee me the right rep... but did not attend any of the sessions... went last year and the sessions did not look much different.
Will do a thorough review of the variety of types of exhibitors (which seemed to have tripled from last year).

Last edited by AussieWebmaster : 11-09-2004 at 10:42 AM.
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