As one of the most successful global search agencies, Merkle is expanding its Amazon practice beginning in January 2018, creating a subdivision to support brands that want to take products direct to consumers.
The agency has supported brands on Amazon since 2014, but with this move an official subdivision will be formed within Merkle.
"We are seeing a real disruption in retail," said Matt Mierzejewski, senior search president, search capability lead at Merkle. "Manufacturers will have their day in the sun."
That day came in January, when Merkle explained the practice at CES in Las Vegas. It is giving brands the ability to cut out retailers like Macy's that want to work directly with Amazon, Walmart, and Google Express through Merkle's platforms. This new Amazon "subdivision" will allow companies like Rubbermaid to put their products directly into the hands of consumers.
Coleen Kuehn, chief media officer at Merkle, said technology and employees, many of whom now work on the "feeds team," will support the subdivision.
Merkle has acquired about a dozen companies in the past five years. Many are smaller companies founded by entrepreneurs, with a focus on data and emerging ideas. That entrepreneurial drive prompts executives to think about "who" before "where" and "what" when targeting ads.
"In the search world you understand the customer's intent or current state of mind," Kuehn said. "We understand a person holistically in the moment and throughout their day."
Voice search will be one of the biggest areas of change for marketers in 2018. By 2020, Merkle estimates that more than 30% of queries will be voice-driven. "Marketers will need to focus on the topics they want to become the authoritative source," Mierzejewski said, adding that virtual assistants will become very selective in the answers served based on queries.
At Merkle, success comes from a focus on data, relevance, technical efficiencies and expertise, such as being able to connect the receipt of a paper catalog with a smartphone search. It takes sophisticated technology to identify consumers across media and identify behavioral patterns with search patterns.
The process requires more than machine learning and artificial intelligence. Success also comes from staying in tune with trends and pursuing the objectives of the more than 70 clients and 180 accounts managing more than $1 billion in advertising spend across a variety of platforms.
Merkle also gives back to search marketers that support their respective company's advertising and marketing strategies through a quarterly in-depth report and a quantitative view of the developments in the organic and paid-search industry, as well as social media. Quarterly, analysts conduct analysis of cost per clicks, click-through rates, device interactions and much more.