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Face to face with Google

Paul Beckley: We are starting to hear the term "Search Marketing 2.0" float around the industry. Can you highlight the major developments of the search landscape in recent years, and elaborate a little on the old search-marketing model versus what the term encompasses today?

Derek Callow joined Google in March 2006 and is regional marketing lead for Google in Southeast Asia, overseeing all marketing activities in the region.

Derek Callow: Whilst we are continuing to bring out new features within our core AdWords platformfor example, we have begun to address the needs of advanced advertisers through our AdWords API. We are also educating power users in the areas of bid management among other things, and offering an introductory version of AdWords known as Starter Edition. We firmly believe that the fundamentals of search engine marketing remain the same: relevance, reach and accountability.

Search engine marketing brings the unique ability for an advertiser to be able to put their advertising message in front of the user at the point in which they are showing interest in a related search term. It also allows a person to reach users all around the globe from their own computer, and has fundamentally improved the accountability of advertising.

Beckley: Do you think the Asian marketer has more or less maximised the potential of search marketing in both SEO and SEM? Or are we at the tip of the iceberg?

Callow: We feel that whilst many Asian businesses, large and small, are getting benefiting from Google AdWords and wider search engine marketing, there is a long way to go.

There are some more advanced industries, such as travel and consumer electronics, that have adopted search engine marketing sooner than others. We see the continuing trend of businesses shifting more of their total marketing spend to the online channel.

Given the continued trend highlighted above, education is a significant objective of Google in the Southeast Asia region.

Beckley: What are some of the opportunities in search marketing you think marketers may be ignoring, or have yet to discover?

Callow: Online marketing and search engine marketing are both learning experiences. We recommend that advertisers take a long-term view of such activities and they will see significant improvements in their results over time.

We also see that advertisers who get the best results are the ones who understand that their online spending can really amplify their offline activitye.g. if advertisers are running a print campaign, then a search campaign can assist in capturing the increased interest their print campaign might generate.

The same exists for larger businesses running a TV campaign; more often than not, increased interest from a TV campaign translates to increased search activity. A search campaign can ensure that your marketing is always on to capture that increased interest.

Beckley: How much marketing value are customers getting out of search engines? Are the offerings from search engines meeting the needs of clients?

Callow: Advertisers, both large and small in Southeast Asia are really beginning to see the value of search engine marketing, and AdWords in particular. The transparency of the results has been very compelling for all realms of advertisers. The fact that one is able to see the specific results of each dollar spent has had a real impact on the growth of online advertising in the region.

It is important to understand that search engine marketing is something that must be learned over time. We see that clients who invest in understanding the channel and continue to test different strategies over time usually obtain the best results.

Beckley: In your opinion, should marketers be spending more on digital? What is optimum spend?

Callow: We definitely feel that digital as a per cent of total spend is low, and generally an increase in online spend would add significant value to marketers, but it does really depend on the objectives of the advertisers' business.

The key point here is to 'fish where the fish are'. For a large portion of brands, a significant percentage of their prospects and customers are spending more and more time online (often more than on other forms of media), and therefore we truly feel that businesses should adapt.

To quote a target spend percentage would not be useful as it does really depend on the individual's business.

One thing to note also is that search engine marketing spend does not have to be a larger per cent of total spendbecause it is so effective. You do not have to spend a lot to get great results.

Beckley: What are some of your predications on how the online advertising landscape will look at this time next year? What are some of the current trends that are likely to stay, and what are the new trends you see emerging?

Callow: As mentioned above, we expect to see a strong continued growth in online spend (albeit off a low base), and we expect to see more industries testing out this channel as a means of lead generation, acquisition, and branding.

As Internet connectivity improves around the region, we expect to see more consumers in the region spending an increasing amount of time on the Internet, and we anticipate more businesses adapting to this shift in consumer behaviour.

Beckley: What do you hope to get out of ad:tech Singapore 2008?

Callow: ad:tech Singapore will be a great opportunity for us to get closer to our marketers in businesses large and small in the SE Asian region, as well as enable us to spend time with some of our existing advertisers.

As mentioned above, awareness of search engine marketing and the education of advertisers of its benefits will remain a key objective for us in the region, and ad:tech will be a great platform for this.

Paul Beckley is the VP of DMG World Media's technology sector in Asia.

Current role involves managing logistics, marketing, P & L and sales teams to organise the ad:tech events that currently take place in San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, New York, London, Sydney and Shanghai. We are also developing further...

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