Best Search: GroupM Search

Best Search: GroupM SearchMass appeal

We bestowed the bronze award in search to GroupM Search - which isn't a search agency at all, in the traditional sense. And that's part of the reason they won. As the line between digital and traditional blurs, and clients consolidate their media buys, GroupM has responded by breaking the walls between search, interactive and traditional.

GroupM manages WPP's media properties: Maxus, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and Mindshare, as well as Outrider, a dedicated search division, and Catalyst. GroupM Search was developed by merging the search offerings of Outrider, Catalyst, Quisma and 24/7 Real Media. It gets our nod not only for the success of its companies, making the group as a whole the largest agency buyer of search in the world, but also for its innovation in the structuring of its business.

Search is not an isolated direct response medium, and traditional media are driving search, so GroupM wants its agencies to be able to work across the entire spectrum of media and communications, says Chris Copeland, ceo of GroupM Search in the Americas. "There's an important connection between the mass scale of traditional media, the freedom of digital media, and search, where consumers express their intent," he says. "When we combine search with other media, it makes all those channels more successful for the client."

Mission accomplished. With another shuffle of the deck in 2008, GroupM created what is likely the largest search specialist agency. At the same time, it placed branded search units within each of its four agencies, while maintaining the Outrider brand to serve clients that are not also clients of one of the big four. The company's proprietary bid management platform, Decide dna, is part of the confederation that falls under the rubric of GroupM Search. The entire search work force, including the team that develops and distributes tools and technology to the agency brands, totals 600.

The approach positions the companies to take advantage of the trend toward client consolidation of media buying. Such wins began in October 2007, when Mediaedge:cia tore all of at&t's media business away from WPP rivals OMD and Interpublic. Now, says Rob Norman, ceo of GroupM Interaction, "If a client walks through the door of Mediaedge:cia, for example, and wants to buy any kind of advertising, they can buy it through Mediaedge:cia."

The system works. This year, Dell wanted to consolidate its business, which had been dispersed among scads of vendors. In a big pitch that included all the major holding companies, WPP won with a proposal to have MediaCom handle all media buying - including search.

The GroupM pitch is clear: You want it, we got it. And GroupM Search has integrated search strategy across the board.

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