Online Marketing: The lack of thought and Initiative

Today post is a special one. It’s from one of the regular readers of this blog. He has been working in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) industry in Singapore for a number of years since its inception. In this article, he offers his own unique/often controversial view on the state of SEM in Singapore. I inserted some of my comments in blue along the way… If you feel like responding to his article, please contact me via

“I sat down to celebrate my 4years of residing/working in the online industry in Singapore, and to evaluate what I had achieved in this time, specifically with introducing search engine marketing to the shores of Singapore. In this time we have seen Google enter the market with gusto, Yahoo change platforms, loose market share and the SME industry embrace a cost effective medium, but what about the big players, the corporates?

There has been a smidgen of big players, but in four years it’s been the same players within the Travel / Tech Consumer / Banking sectors, and even in those verticals not a huge influx of new players.

I would say over four years I have visited most mid-large size agencies, most Blue Chip organizations, and most probably count on two hands the people who really understand search. What shocks me most is the fact from the Direct side of business are these so called Marketing people, who I must ask, what value are they bringing to their business?

In this day and age with the online media industry growing in leaps and bounds do any off them look to really embrace new media, are they actually interested is more the questions. How many of these so called marketing people rehash last years plan, which was ideally the same plan for the last 5 years. Do they not read industry magazines and do research, I dare say not.

How many times do you see a Billboard/ TV / Radio / Newspaper ad, and search for the business or product to find no information on the search engines? When close to 80% of traditional media is pushing people onto the search engines there can only be two outcomes for the consumer –

  1. They do not find the brand they originally wanted, – “so great marketing skills there”, and Yes I blame agencies for their lack of insight here too!
  2. They do find a competitor who is likely to take your offline dollars initiative, capture the customer at the EXACT Point the consumer is searching.

WAKE UP Singapore ITS 2008, NEARLY 2009!!!!!

How can you really afford not to be using search, be it Paid search or SEO, how can you not have this in your marketing strategy plans…Well let me point out the following,

There is a monster on the way, in the name of a global recession, and I can 100% assure you all that, if your not having your budget cuts now, you soon will be…Traditional media will be an excess luxury, CEO’s / MD’s will be asking for more Performance orientated marketing strategies, measurable, ROI orientated, actual deliverables. It may take some time for this monster to rear its ugly head, but for those already planning and asking the right questions, good on you. For the majority who still have their heads in the Traditional Marketing Sand, -WAKE UP.

If I look at Europe / The US and even Australia, most marketing budgets are up to 45-75% on online media, this includes more SEO nowadays, solely as the search engines market driven pricing is not allowing companies to meet their usual margins, so the industry has evolved to SEO which is the better long term search strategy. Couple that with Affiliate marketing and Low cost media buying across Ad Networks then the focus becomes more so Performance marketing, its accountable.

I do take on board that Branding still and will need to continue, and traditional media will have a place, but not in the shape that it has had for so long here in Singapore when more and more people are using some form of online to fulfill their daily needs for news & information and research. Here is a thought, why not run search, side by side with your offline, include some technology to understand your online consumer and make sure you have a very highly dedicated account management team who is also willing to share the knowledge and education.

The other problem in Singapore is that big companies rely too heavily on their agencies, and I can say with confidence, there simply not many agencies who know what they are talking about when it comes to online or search…..I laugh when companies ask us to provide contextual online advertising, when I ask them why, they say, well that’s what my agency did before. Any agency promoting contextual advertising is simply listening to search engine rhetoric, it does not work in these markets at this point, its just another revenue driver for the search engines.. (Well yes and no for Contextual advertising, it really depends on how they set up the campaign, measure and optimize it, IMHO)

The other thing is the search engines will never have your best interests at heart, they are massive global companies that have been driving revenue into their front doors for years, they are paid no matter what, and this is similar to ad agencies. Once again it comes back to working with key metrics and KPI’s and ensuring these are being met effectively either by the search engines or what ever agency you maybe using. The adopters of agencies who work with incentive based payment models will always out perform the traditional agency or search engines.

In 2009 I look forward to seeing how things pan out with this global finance disaster which sits like a dark cloud around us currently, but as I have eluded too, for those not thinking smart about next years marketing initiative and ensuring it includes Paid Search / SEO/Affiliate, then good luck too you all, as I do not see great success for your business. For those who have agencies and consultants or young passionate marketing people who embrace online with an ROI /CPA mindset, then you will be seen as leaders and reap the rewards I’m sure.


-The end –

I guess by now you would understand why i offer up front that if you want to respond to the article, please contact me at

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