Digital Marketing Companies - What is Happening?

Friday, 29 February 2008

Back in November 2007 the 'Big 3' digital marketing groups in Australia did not really expect what happened in the last couple of months: share prices are going down up to 150%, some issues with profitability, job cuts

BlueFreeway changes its strategy

BlueFreeway is the digital marketing company that generated much of the talk. From the Sydney Morning Herald to B&T, BlueFreeway's issues have been publicly exposed starting with the resignation of Richard Webb and two other directors, followed by a large number of job cut and the change in the company strategy.

BlueFreeway appeared in 2006 and proceeded to a series of acquisitions in Australia and overseas to reach 25 companies in 2007 including Clear Light Digital, Cogentis and others. BlueFreeway also heavily invested in the development, support and sales of the Blu. advertising portal.
Early 2008 some profitability issues started to rise and quickly led to the current situation: A share price at its lowest, job cuts and a lot of questions.
The interim direction has decided to go back to a more sustainable strategy focused on the portfolio of companies instead of the development of their portal.

According to Fanale, one of the new CEO, BlueFreeway grew too quickly and had a level of expenses to high compared to the level of sales. Now that overheads costs have been reduced, Fanale is confident on the future of the company.

Q Group struggles with profitability

The Q Group has aggregated 9 digital companies in the field of online marketing including media sales, search marketing and list marketing in the last 2 years.
Even if the group has a strong position in Australia, the Q Group is still not fully profitable. The latest acquisitions have not been fully integrated and the cost of expansion have dented the group profitability.

The results are similar to BlueFreeway, the share price has dropped significantly and the board has to proceed to some cost cutting activities

The future of the Q Group is not jeopardised as the group has recorded an orgnaic growth of 42.7% in the last 6 months of 2007 generating 12 Millions in revenues with an improving profitability.
However the future possible acquisitions mentioned in the board presentation might have to wait a little longer if Q Group want to restore confidence with its investors.

Search Engine Marketing in Australia - 2008 and Beyond

Sunday, 24 February 2008

2008 is full of promises for the search marketing industry in Australia. To discuss these challenges, AIMIA hosted a conference,which gathered a panel of search marketing experts including:

  • Willie Pang, Head of Yahoo Search Marketing

  • Robbie Hills, MD of 24/7 Real Media

  • Karim Temsamani, GM of Google Australia

  • Peter Crowe, CEO Life Events Media

Search Engine Marketing as an effective driver of sales

Nothing new about that, but the entire panel strongly expressed the effectiveness of search engine marketing as a driver of sales. Robbie Hills emphasises the impact of search on FMCG sales: Out of 163 Million consumers, 71 Millions comes from search and 72% of online consumers reach a website (and buy) using search.

Search Engine Marketing for Branding

According to the panel, search engine marketing will have more an more importance for branding. Search Engines are becoming more and more content-rich and user friendly. Universal Search is now integrating video, images in the search results pages, which offer better opportunities to work on the brand experience.

Search Engine Marketing complements traditional marketing activities

All experts stressed the importance of intergrating search engine marketing into marketing plans. According to Willie Pang, 'Search Engine Marketing is the bridge between online and offline".
Offline and Online advertising are complementary and should be treated accordingly; 67% of online consumers are directed to search engine by exposure to offline media and 40% of consumer watch TV while surfing the internet.

Willie Pang illustrated the implementation of this concept with the example of HSBC in Taiwan. As 72% of online consumers do not remember URLs in a TV ad, the bank volontarly redirected the audience to search engines where they are sure to appear.

Karim Temsamani also mentioned the importance of search engine marketing in local business search. Google Maps are and will become more and more helpful to redirect online visitors to a local store. Once again online media and offline media act as a team.

Moving toward a different pricing model...

Peter Crowe also mentioned that search engine marketing will need to move to a different pricing model as the cost per click (CPC) model will soon reach a plateau. The increased competition and CPC inflation will decrease the profitability of paid search. Other pricing models such as Cost per Lead (CPL) or Cost per Actions (CPA) are more likely to emerge as the next alternatives.
Yahoo recognised that they do not provide this option due to a lack of a clear definition, while Google (which provides CPA) stressed that CPA model is still in the early stage.

SEO Book becomes a Training Program

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The SEO Book, the popular product from Aaron Wall is changing its format at the end of February.

According to Aaron Wall:

"Over the course of the past couple years it became obvious to me that the perceived value of ebooks was dropping, the field of SEO was getting more complex, and many people who purchased my book wanted to be able to interact with me and ask me many questions. This caused me to need to change the SEO Book business model away from selling a downloadable ebook, and toward selling a web based information product backed by a community forum that helped turn it into a service more than a product".

The SEO Book is becoming the SEO Book training program. On top of a version of the SEO Book, it offers to its members an unlimitied access to over 100 training modules covering all areas of search engine optimisation. The SEO Training program also offers bonuses, tools and exclusive information.

If you want to join this program or get more information, feel free to visit the SEO Book Training Program page

Google Geek Night Sydney - Second Edition

Monday, 18 February 2008

The second edition of the Google Geek Night in February 2008 was bigger than the first one . A lot more Google staff members, more space, more food and more presentations.

The best one was probably the Google Mapplets presention. Google Mapplets are mini-applications in JavaScript that run on Google Maps. They are actual Google Gadgets that exploit Google Maps only.
Using the example of the Beijing Olympic website, the Google Mapplets Developer (I forgot his name, sorry) demonstrated how you can improve the user experience without any clicks out of the page. In other words the visitors can access a large amount of information in different format (images, text and video) about all the different locations of the Beijing Olympic without even having to follow any navigation pattern. The visitor stays on the same page, but navigate within the interactive elements of the page (Mapplets/Gadgets).

These Google Gadgets/Mapplets are "websites within a website" and are highly likely to change the traditional way of thinking and designing websites. Exploiting Google Gadgets/Mapplets to a next level could remove the barriers to access information and we can even think of a website with only an handful of pages, which will each include Gadgets/Mapplets to display textual and visual information.

The Google Geek Night also included a presentation of each of the Google products that bring money to Google( Adwords, AdSense, and You Tube). However, the second edition include information on neither the Google Algorithm update nor the 'non-revenue-generating produtcs' such as Google Webmaster Tools or Blogger. It is a bit of a shame, but they have to pay for the food and drinks.

Online Retail Industry in Australia - Christmas 2007 and Beyond

Friday, 15 February 2008

According to Hitwise data in January 2008, the Australian online retail stores have performed quit well over Christmas 2007.
Sectors including appliances, electronics, books, music and video-games have experienced records web traffic, with increases in excess of 30% during the last quarter of the year.
Overall visits to Shopping and classified websites have increased by 9% comparing December 2006 and December 2007. Such trends have a good impact on the e-commerce and online retail industry in Australia.

However, the Australian online retail industry does not seems to be as healthy as in other market overseas. Mike Zeederberg, managing director of Digital Agency told B&T that:

There is a lot of discussion about why e-tailing is not growing at the same sort rate as the other markets, and the fact that Australia does not have the catalogue culture

This assumption is a little superficial as Australia is probably one culture that is really mail-order focused due to the size of the country. Therefore this is not really the issue

If you look at the ranking of the top 10 shopping and classified websites in Australia, it is quite scary to notice that except Trading Post Online and Email Cash, there is no real Australian online retailers in the top 10.

Major Australian Retailers are not taking the initiatives of going online

Some of the reasons that explain the actual state of the online industry, is the lack of initiatives from major Australian retailers such as Coles/Myer, Woolworth, David Jones or Harvey Norman. According to Chris Hitchen, managing director of Get Price, most of Australian retailers have limited or no online shopping facilities. Moreover they do not operate multi-channel strategies and if they do they concentrate their efforts in driving visits to their physical store. Paul Greenberg, managing director of Deals Direct recently elected Australian number 1 online department store, said in an inteview that he almost felt embarassed to be the first online department store as they are a privately own company with no real competition.
This is the result of a real lack of confidence in online retail from traditional retailers. Big retailers are often afraid of the unknown and the cost associated with starting an online division.Moreover most major retailers are afraid of competing on prices and do not see the benefits of online retail.

A lack of efficiency of the Australian online retail model

Another reason that can explain the situation is a real lack of experience with the online business model. Most retailers find it costly and difficult to understand. Those who have tried are still not mastering all the challenges of an online business. For example Dymocks, which is one of the rare major Australian retailer that took the opportunity of moving online, is still struggling against its overseas counterparts. While Dymocks generates a large share of its revenue online, their offer is still inferior to Amazon in terms of price, delivery and customer service. Indeed Amazon offers cheaper prices and deliver much faster while being located in US!
David Jones is another example, they invested a large number of money the late 90's with a 14 Million invetment. However they did not managed to understand the model or did not spend enough time to understand the challenge of the Australian model and never came back!

A lack of expertise in marketing products online
Finally many Australian retailers that have moved online have not mastered the way of marketing their products online. I have seen many online retails websites that do not have a clear online strategy and especially a clear and defined search marketing strategy. If you look around many Australian online retailers do not have well optimised websites and many of them do not even use paid search.

But opportunities exist and are not fully explored by major brands

However Australian want to shop online. Forrester Research and AC Nielsen discovered that 62% to 78% of Australian internet users are online shoppers. Looking at the growth figure in the US, online retail grows at 25%, while traditional retail grows at 4 to 5% a year. Early online players, who rationalized their online business model are enjoying a dominant position on the market and are actually putting traditional retailers in danger. For example Deals Direct enjoyed a $50 Milion dollars turnover in 2007 exclusively online and has been elected number 1 department store in Australia in less than 3 years.

As a result there is a real need from major retailers and especially Woolworth and Coles to take the step and make a move online. At the same time,the same companies wil l need help from agencies to fill the gap in knowledge and manage the transition from operating and managing a business offline to online. Conferences and industry gathering such as the Online Shopping Conference have also a real role to play to educate and help the Australian retailers to move online or improve their online activities. The challenges are real, but the opportunities are far greater!

Bruce Clay SEO Training Sydney - March 2008

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Bruce Clay SEO Training will come back to Sydney for the third time from the 17th until the 19th March 2008 (just after Ad Tech Sydney).

Last year edition of the 3-Day SEO Training course has been positively received by the attendees and keeps on being well rated by many industry organisations.

The training program will be conducted by Bruce Clay, president of Bruce Clay Inc and well-recognised global SEO Expert. The SEO course will cover the various methodologies and techniques used for SEO and will give you access to a SEO toolset.

According to Jeremy Bolt, a Director of Bruce Clay Australia

We recogised a gap in the Australian market for a quality SEO training course that delivered a comprehensive methodology and toolset, and not just people talking about their own experiences or selling their services. This course gets into the detail, the How-to's, the latest and nothing is held back.

This SEO training course is targeted at managers, webmasters and online marketers,who are involved in search engine optimisation (SE0) activities. On top of hearing the advice from one of the most respected SEO expert, you will be able to learn practical skills to increase the amount of qualified visitors to your website.

If you are interested in registering for the event, click on the following link to access the Bruce Clay website

Australia & New Zealand SEO/SEM Salary Survey

Thursday, 7 February 2008

After having a look at the results of the SEMPO SEM Salary Survey and taking the SEOmoz SEO industry survey, we realised that these surveys are highly US/Canada focused and therefore do not fully reflect the reality of the Australian/New Zealand SEO/SEM market.

To overcome this lack of targeted information, SEO Sydney Blog has decided to create the first SEO/SEM Salary Survey for Australia and New Zealand.

We had a look at other surveys and took into considerations the comments of our readers . Finally we came up with a set of 10 questions. The survey will take you 5 mins to complete and is totally anonymous.

On the second week of March we will publish the results on the SEO Sydney Blog

To make sure that we get a good picture of the Australian and New Zealand market, please feel free to invite the people in your network to take the survey.

Contrary to other surveys, there is nothing to win (unfortunately), however we think that the results will be valuable for the Australian SEO/SEM community and therefore be the main incentive.

SEO-SEM Salary Survey in Australia and New Zealand

The results have been published! Find out what is the most common SEO Salary in Australia

SMX Sydney promises to be good!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

As announced earlier this year in our Search Engine Marketing Events Agenda, SMX Sydney (Search Marketing Expo) is one of the major event in the SEO/SEM industry in Australia.

This edition will take place on April 10th and April 11th and they have lined-up some pretty famous international speakers. Here is the list I got from the SMX Newsletter:

  • Danny Sullivan, Editor in Chief - (US)

  • Gord Hotchkiss, President & CEO - Enquiro (Canada)

  • Rand Fishkin, Director - SEOmoz (US)

  • Jane Copeland, Search Marketing Consultant - SEOmoz (US)

  • Ciaran Norris, SEO & Social Media Director, Altogether Digital (UK)

  • Frederick Valley, Adwords Evangelist, Google Inc. (US)

That looks awesome and should attract quite a few people. To register visit the new SMX Sydney Website

15% Discount to Buy Links on Text Link Ads

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Even if Google is not a big fan of paid links, as proved by the last October Google PageRank update, services such as Text Links Ads (TLA) can help you to drive traffic and improve your link popularity.

Buying links from TLA is usually quite pricey, so a discount coupon is always welcome. Until the end of February you can receive up to 15% discount on your new orders. It is quite simple, just enter the coupon code: Feb at checkout!

SEM In-House Salary Survey 2007 from SEMPO

Monday, 4 February 2008

SEM Salary Survey 2007 - SEMPOSurveys about SEO and SEM are quite popular those days. SEOmoz has recently announced the launch of their SEO Industry Survey. At the begining of January, SEMPO had released the results of its In-House Search Marketing (SEM) Salary Survey 2007.

While having a strong North American focus and being oriented towards managers roles (26% of the respondents are managers) the results are quite interesting if you want to understand the industry and the salary a little more. The results confirm that the industry is young as around 64% of the respondents have 5 or less years of experience.

Experience has a strong impact on SEM salaries

The results also bring more realistic salary expectations than all the articles on the net outlining outrageaous salaries. Quite logically, the number of years of experience has a strong influence on the salaries.

49% of respondents with less than 3 years experience have a salary ranging from 0 to $50,000.

SEM Entry Level Salary

- Managers (26% of the respondents) can expect salaries ranging from $60,000 to $90,000.
- Seniors Manager (20% of respondents) have salaries ranging from $70,000 to $100,000.
- Directors (16% of respondents) have salaries ranging from $100,000 to $120,000.

It is also important to notice that extremely high salaries are not so common (unfortunately).

If you are interested in other findings of the survey, visit the SEMPO website

BlueFreeway says goodbye to its CEO

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Richard Webb, the CEO of BlueFreeway, who organised the acquisition of more than 10 Australian digital media companies has resigned from its position.

According to a press release that appeared in the news section of BlueFreeway website, the main point of concern is to cut the growing overhead costs associated with the development and support of the innovative Blu. online advertsing portal.

The board also confirmed that the Blu. portal will still be sold, but with in a more sustainable fashion. From now, BlueFreeWay will refocus its strategy on its portfolio of 25 fast growing companies.

Shane Murray and Steven Fanale has been appointed COO, while Greg Daniel has been appointed Interim Executive Chairman.