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Managing Ultra-Complex Search

Kevin M. Ryan
Managing Ultra-Complex Search Kevin M. Ryan

ad:tech Chicago is less than a week away, and the show promises to be a winner on many levels. This year, I am taking a step back from the expert chair and moderating what promises to be one of the more popular sessions in taking a deep dive into ultra-complex search management.

The one hour session (Monday, July 24 at 11:45) features expert panelists from Motorola, Global Strategies, EC Next and Smart Search marketing. While I won't give too much away, there have been quite a few questions floating around the searchosphere about the complexities of search.

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What constitutes a complex search initiative? What can you do when a search marketing initiative graduates beyond the basics and in-house resources? What tools should I use? Let's take a look inside the brain bucket of complex search.

Ultra-complex what?
I asked each panelist what they thought an ultra-complex search initiative might look like. The answers might surprise you.

"Complex" is at best a subjective description of any search initiative. One man's complex search initiative is another man's milk run. In the early days of search engine advertising the very notion of managing bid process and acquisition could have been (and often was) defined as complex.

Today, the search world is inherently more complex and difficult to navigate.

Above all, describing complexity seemed to center around developing an understanding of each client's level of information overload. If 2003-2005 were the years marketers got their hands on the data from advertising, site analytics and search advertising, then 2006 and beyond will be the time frame in which marketers begin to comprehend the mountain of information that they demanded.

Tools of the trade
One of the characteristics of successfully navigating the complexity in search starts involves selecting the right tools. Should a search marketer bypass the plethora of bid management tools available and just use the tools each search engine offers? Can a bid management tool provide a one-stop solution?

The answers to these questions are a bit, well, complicated… as you might imagine.

There are a multitude of choices for every advertiser, and the search engine advertising tool landscape has changed dramatically in the past year or so.

Search engines have tightened the belt on protocols for their application program interfaces (API). Advertisers have seen increased charges to use these tools based on keyword activity, and they often complain that tools can't keep up with the changes search engines make.

Search engines are getting into the analytics business and offer bundled solutions. Analytics providers are getting into the search engine management business. Each offers the promise of marrying site data to search advertising performance.

In the short term, an advertiser or agency must select from best of breed or settle with the shortcomings of bundles.

That's not a choice; it's a gut-shot ultimatum.

Measurement and complexity
For many advertisers, complex means measuring search at multiple levels. Thinking of search advertising as a direct marketing tool may not be a thing of the past, but it certainly makes sense to explore new opportunities to quantify your search marketing investment.

For many, search as a brand building tool is now old news. Most marketers have the notion of search advertising as a brand vehicle down, but what happens when multiple success criteria are programmed into a search initiative?

Purchase points, competitive positioning, targeting by audience segment, measuring the effectiveness of promotions and safeguarding your trademarks are all on the minds of advertisers.

While there are no easy answers, the complex solutions that advertiser need has created are at the forefront of managing a complex search initiative.

Solutions that work
Our search advertising world grows more complex as the industry continues to expand and develop beyond the "bid to be first" mentality. Integrating a search initiative into the overall marketing portfolio is the name of the game today.

I'll be back next week with a summary of what promises to be an insightful discussion on the latest and greatest techniques that will lend a helping hand to your ultra-complex search opportunities.

In the meantime, if you find yourself looking for some search intelligence with a mid-western flair, stop by ad:tech Chicago. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Kevin Ryan is the chief executive officer of Kinetic Results. .


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