Commentary

Tesco's Former Ad Agency CEO Influences Online Marketing Social, Search

Tesco

Tesco became one of the first U.K.-based retail chains to implement radio frequency identification technology in the mid 2000s. At the time, the company's chief information officer created a strategy that would rely on RFID tags and readers to keep track of inventory. In 2005, the retailer signed a three-year contract with Tyco Fire & Security's ADT Security Services, purchasing 4,000 radio-frequency identification readers and 16,000 antennas to outfit its stores and distribution centers throughout the United Kingdom.  

Moving to an online strategy now in place, Tesco pushes the limits again with paid search to find ways to simplify processes similar to what RFID did for its supply chain. The company began using Kenshoo Editor in May 2010, and managed to quantify a 40% time savings in search engine marketing (SEM) management by June 2010.

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Although unconfirmed, this might signal a change in culture amidst the marketing department. In June, Tesco plucked advertising agency Evans Hunt Scott CEO Matt Atkinson, appointing him to group digital marketing officer, to help expand digital marketing operations worldwide.

It appears that Atkinson has been spending time improving the company's social and search strategies. Tesco launched its Facebook page in March, and now has more than 265,000 fans since April. For paid search, the Kenshoo Editor, similar to Adobe SearchCenter, brings an enterprise technology platform to the desktop to help Tesco create new campaigns and optimize multiple channels in minutes. It allows marketers to fulfill bid changes and other commands faster because the tool is not online. It's on the desktop.

Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman pointed to the transition from desktop tools such as Microsoft Excel to online tools in the cloud and now back to the desktop. "Excel let you set up pivot tables much faster," he said, pointing to Kenshoo's decision to bring it back to the desktop by building an application specific for managing search campaigns. "Marketers are no longer beholden to the latency in any online interface, and the time it takes to download, work on the numbers, and then upload the information back into the system."

The Editor drag-and-drop and copy-paste features make it quick to implement bulk changes across large, complex accounts. Rather than working in an Excel spreadsheet, the applications were built specifically to manage online search campaigns.

Aside from Editor, Kenshoo RealTime Campaigns allows Tesco to sync SEM campaigns with actual inventory availability and dynamic merchandising, making ad placements more relevant and effective. When items go out of stock, the platform identifies the inventory level and drops the ad from the rotation cycle.

Barnes & Noble, Golfsmith.com, LendingTree, TicketsNow, and Zappos also use Kenshoo Editor, according to Goldman.

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