This month we chat to Trond Frost, Entrepreneur and CEO at Outsearching in Norway, one of Europe’s top SEM agencies.
Tell us a bit about Outsearching and what you do
Outsearching is a performance agency only doing SEM on Google, Bing/Yahoo, Yandex and Sapo. We have no fixed fees, no budgets, and are paid only when we produce a sale or lead. We also take the risk by actually paying all costs to the search engines upfront. We have offices in all the key markets and have more than 4,000 campaigns currently running for our clients. We are Europe’s largest SEM agency based on the number of campaigns we run.
Which clients do you mainly work with?
Well, that is a tricky one. Our clients range from airlines to financial institutions. However I do think we have a good grip on the finance segment as we today operate in more than 26 countries for different brands and companies within this segment.
From your experience, which products/verticals work best for SEM?
There is no answer to that. Everything can gain market by using search. The one thing that is common is that if you are using Google, Bing, Yandex or Sapo, the cost goes up. This is mainly driven by two things: more and more competition, and the biggest players not caring too much about the acquisition cost. They just want the best positioning.
What are the most common mistakes most advertisers make with their AdWords?
They all try to take the whole market without really calculating their ROI. Also, they all go out hard and as quality scores go down they do not notice or do not understand how to handle it. We see some agencies who have built campaigns of maybe 100,000 keywords. Not how are you going to do that 100%? The answer is, you’re not. The second thing is using bidding platforms. This was great in the start, but let’s face it: If you have one system running on algorithms to optimize your campaign, that may be good, but when 5 or more systems go up against each other it will only make them calculate the best price at that point in time. This always ends up with the bid going slightly down, the quality score going down, and the next you know you are paying 50 cents more per click.
How has Google changed/shaped the SEM industry?
Firstly, they made it. Yes you have other systems too, however they are all just trying to copy what Google does. The problem is also that Google has major market share witch leaves the others as total underdogs.
Is SEM still good value for money compared to other online channels?
Yes and no. I think there are many channels that can deliver quality traffic at a much lower price. However you can get the big volumes you need from SEM.
What will be the big game changers in online advertising in the near future?
Of course the big thing now is RTB (Real-time bidding). Like it or not, it’s growing and it will continue to do so. But if I was to take a wild guess I would say this: It’s great to do things in real-time and to target audiences, however the future will become more about pre-targeting.
You yourself have started several businesses over the years. What key lessons have your learnt?
Nobody will give you anything unless you work for it, and never actually count how much you have made per hour. You will be shocked!
Describe yourself in 1 sentence.
Wisest words ever spoken?
Never expect thanks for a great idea.