mOne Worldwide launched a dedicated search practice in 47 countries. OMMA’s Lynn Russo sat down with Stuart Bogaty, newly appointed CEO of mSearch North America, and John Montgomery, CEO of mOne North America, to discuss the new division and how the search market will evolve in the future.
OMMA: How did the idea for mSearch come about?
Montgomery: mSearch was a joint vision of our worldwide CEO Nasreen Madhany and one that came out of a strategy we wrote for North America almost a year ago when we realized how much search was growing. We already had a strong U.K. partner, AdvancedPositions.com, but not someone to do the work in North America… We saw the way search was helping our clients solve their problems and saw how search was growing and it became a no-brainer.
OMMA: What are the core competencies of mSearch?
Bogaty: We’ve taken mOne’s entire search practice, including strategy and execution of both paid and natural search, and created a separate group that specializes specifically in those two things. We expect to gain efficiencies for ourselves, as well as our clients, including better rates, fees, and results.
Montgomery: But we are less about core competencies and more about strategic marketing thinking. Within our search group, we have folks who understand marketing and how search fits into marketing. While we view search executionally as becoming more of a commodity, our expertise lies in that high-level strategic marketing and how [search] fits in with the overall picture.
OMMA: Stuart, you’ve said there is a real need to have experts who understand search inside and out. Why is that?
Bogaty: Paid search requires consistent maintenance. A lot of what you’re paying for with a keyword is managing hourly changes. At any time, your ranking could drop two to five spaces based on the way the open-auction marketplace works. And because it’s all performance-based, we need to assure that what we’re paying for also pays out on a conversion standpoint as well. Natural search is completely different. You’re not buying any type of media, but providing high-level consulting to clients on how their sites can be reworked to improve their rankings.
OMMA: What percentage of mOne’s clients’ budgets goes to search? Also, how much of your work is focused on paid versus natural search?
Bogaty: We can’t quote actual numbers, but search is 15 to 20 percent of budgets, on average. We’re doing work for all of the mOne clients, plus IBM, Novartis, Nextel, Ameritrade and Ford. We’re probably doing more paid search today, because that’s where we bore out of. But all clients also focus on natural search, because it’s cheaper — primarily paying compensation fees and [salaries] to [clients’] internal Web teams, whereas paid search is actual media spending. Consumer packaged goods companies have walked into search later, while technology and pharmaceutical clients are at a much higher [level] because of the consumers’ use of search in those categories. Some will spend more than last year, and in some cases, spending is growing exponentially.
OMMA: How do you see the industry changing over the next few years?
Bogaty: We all feel confident growth will continue, but at a slower pace. I think consumers are recognizing paid banners, and they will be less likely to click on them, so that will… probably change... I think we’ll see a plateau in the next two to three years, but a lot will depend on what MSN and Google [do in the future].