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» SES Conference Coverage » An Exclusive Interview with Rob Murray, President of iProspect

An Exclusive Interview with Rob Murray, President of iProspect

SemGeek is proud to present an exclusive interview with iProspect’s President Rob Murray. Rob is responsible for formulating the firm’s corporate strategy as well as managing the company’s operations.  In addition to complimenting this interview, Rob will also be speaking on the Orion Keynote Panel on Day 1 at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, CA in August 18-22, 2008.

SES Returns to San Jose, Aug. 18-22! Get Your Tickets Now!

About the Orion Keynote Panel – How Much Search is

Where does search really fit within a marketer’s total digital
advertising effort? Big businesses and small businesses alike struggle with how
to allocate search marketing, and other online advertising or marketing efforts.
This Orion session will evaluate strategic thought processes and then grind down
to tactical execution with thought leaders from the search engine marketing,
advertising agency and advertiser perspectives. We will explore how Search can
be "carved out" from an overall budget and how these tactical fit will lead the
white whale of online marketing; a truly holistic marketing strategy

Question #1:
As paid search costs continue to rise, do you anticipate an increase or decrease in offline channels influencing online searches? What channels will be the emerging ones? Will the industry see a shift in marketing budgets across the board?

We anticipate an increase in the influence of offline channels in driving people to search regardless of what happens to paid search costs – though for the sake of this answer we can assume that costs will continue to rise.  There are a couple of fundamental reasons for this – first, regardless of what happens to paid search costs, it will always costs less to process a conversion or a transaction online than it will to process it via phone, via mail, or in-store.  So the more that offline channels drive people to search – and those people end up converting online – the more money will be added to the bottom line.  Second, those marketers who successfully integrate their offline marketing efforts with their search marketing efforts will produce superior search engine marketing results than those who don’t – period.  Marketers who use search marketing solely as a “pull marketing” technique, and not as a means by which to secure the conversions produced by integrating “push marketing” techniques are only taking advantage of half search marketing’s power.

Our feelings are that TV, radio, print and direct mail are extremely well positioned to influence search behavior, and will be the leading channels at doing just that for those organizations who go about integrating their marketing mix with search in an intelligent way.  I would look for a shift away from investments in offline channels other than these I just mentioned, with those funds going to help support more search marketing and to help cover the cost of integration.

Question #2:
If studies indicate that more people are clicking on news results rather than image or video, then allocating PPC budgets on social networks such as Myspace and Facebook would be on the decline? What is your thought on the Viral Social Media explosion and the decline in image and video blended results?

Without making a blanket statement on whether it’s a good strategy for ALL companies to invest PPC budget on social networking sites, I disagree with the premise of your question.  That’s because people who are being presented with blended search results – and are subsequently clicking news results more than images or videos – chose to go to one of the major search engines for a specific reason.  Similarly, those people who spend time on MySpace or Facebook chose to visit those sites for specific reasons – which are probably a very different than the one that drove people to a search engine.  So I don’t view this as an either/or question.  A marketer may very well want to show their ads to people who had a reason to visit a search engine AND to people who had a reason to visit a social networking site.  The reasons are not exclusive of one another.

For that exact reason  we recommend our clients cover all their bases.  If there is a social networking site whose community has generated content about your company, or your products or services, or your product or service category – or has demonstrated some alignment with values held by your company — it makes sense to test an advertising presence within that community.  On the other hand, we also advise our clients to utilize and optimize every type of digital asset – such as images, videos and press releases – that they have at their disposal.  Blended search is an experiment that’s between 9-18 months old, depending on the search engine, and the engines are still figuring out which digital asset types are the most relevant for searches for each keyword.  There might not always be a relevant news result available to return for a given keyword search, and when that’s the case you certainly want your images and video assets to appear in those results.

Question #3
Do you see integration of offline channels with search marketing being done by the majority of your clients?  What type of obstacles or limitations typically stand in the way of those who don’t?

I’d say about half of our clients are integrating at least one offline channel with their search marketing campaigns – though many are not doing so when they first engage with us and need convincing of the wisdom of doing so.  Companies with “siloed” marketing organizations – where different teams that are sometimes in a different geographic locations  are responsible for different channels – always seem to be especially challenged when it comes to communicating as clearly and as often as is needed to effectively integrate their efforts. We also see budgetary and human resource limitations stand in the way of integration efforts.  Let’s be honest, integration isn’t as simple as 1+1=3. Some additional effort and budget needs to be invested, so it’s more like 1+1.1=3 – but results are still worth it.  Some companies still aren’t ready to invest more to produce more.

Question #4
If a marketer could do just one thing to integrate their offline and search marketing efforts in order to significantly increase the results of both, what would you advise them to do?

Coordinate the keywords, messaging, and calls to action within their offline marketing campaign to match the keywords, messaging, and calls to action that have proven to be most profitable within their search marketing campaigns. No single integration technique will produce as much “bang for the buck” and net such immediate increases in the results of both the offline campaigns and your search campaigns.  Now that’s not to say that this is easy to do as every channel is going to believe that the way they are talking to clients and prospects is the “right” way.  But search marketers can share the gift of data like few of their offline colleagues can, and can use that data to quantifiably demonstrate to other channels that they’ve optimized their messaging to maximize profitability.  Starting the discussion about consolidating from disparate to coordinated messaging by looking at the data can often shorted the conversation and accelerate the buy-in process.

About Robert J. Murray?

Robert J. Murray is President of iProspect. He is responsible for formulating the firm’s corporate strategy as well as managing the company’s operations. Murray, who has more than 15 years of strategic consulting and financial analysis expertise, also is in charge of developing and negotiating strategic alliances, identifying acquisition opportunities, and evaluating the company’s capital structure. He has served as the president of iProspect for the last five years and led the company through its recent acquisition by Aegis PLC. He previously served as the firm’s executive vice president.

Prior to joining iProspect, Murray was a marketing and manufacturing strategy consultant for Bain & Company, Inc. of Boston. Murray also has served as a financial analyst for the North American Sales Group of Lotus Development Corporation in Cambridge, manager of financial reporting for Applied Extrusion Technologies Inc. of Boston, and a supervising senior auditor and certified public accountant for the Boston office of KPMG Peat Marwick.

Murray earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Carroll School of Management Honors Program at Boston College. He has written numerous articles for industry publications including DM News, iMedia Connection, MediaPost, Target Marketing Magazine, and is a regular columnist for Search Engine Land. Additionally, Murray has spoken at industry events around the country including ad:tech, OMMA, Search Engine Strategies and Search Marketing Expo.

Robert Murray is one of just nine individuals to be named to BtoB Magazine’s “Who’s Who in Search” for 2008 and is a member of the board of directors of the New England Chapter of the American Association of Advertising

Filed under: SES Conference Coverage

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