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Letter to the Editor: Why Search Rules DO Work

The following is a letter to the editor of DM News

Why Search Rules Do Work

Congratulations to Ellen Siminoff on her article, "Why Search Rules Just Don't Work" (DMNews, April 24, 2006). Ms. Siminoff correctly notes that search marketers can no longer manage their campaigns using simple rules or position-based bidding. However, I'd disagree with her recommendation to manage keywords as "a single portfolio."

Retail is about real people and real products, and like all human endeavors is full of special cases. In my search agency, clients often instruct us to apply different economic goals to different classes of their ads, reflecting different marketing objectives within their total search effort. Some ads run for margin; others for sales, store traffic, or branding. Holding every ad in a portfolio to the same metric isn't wise marketing.

We find our clients enjoy significant performance gains by layering rules-based marketing on top of our portfolio-based bidding platform. Rules-based portfolio marketing goes beyond simple term-position rules ("Keep the "widget' ad in the top three slots.") Rules-based portfolio marketing allows retailers to optimize the different objectives for different classes of ads.

As click costs rise, smart search marketers should seek out strong, statistically savvy bidding algorithms. Strong technology is essential, as Ms. Siminoff points out. Yet, as search becomes more complex and more clicks convert in call centers and retail stores, strong marketing skills become just as essential.

Winning at search in 2006 is both art and science.

Alan Rimm-Kaufman

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