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Search has become an essential product. Online marketing service providers are racing to include search in their offerings, as SEM companies compete to add more features to their offerings.
Affiliate marketing company Commission Junction yesterday launched CJ Search, a tool encompassing paid search, paid inclusion and organic search. CEO Jeff Pullen describes it as a "one-stop-shop" where advertisers can manage search campaigns and optionally, work with CJ's publisher network. "We sit in the middle as an independent third party to guarantee a mutually beneficial relationship," said Pullen.
CJ's announcement was made on the heels of the news that the privately held company is to be acquired by Valueclick (Quote, Chart), which also picked up search marketing company Search123 in June. Although details weren't forthcoming, it seems inevitable that search services will be integrated between the units.
Elizabeth Cholawsky, CJ's SVP of marketing & product development, says the company regards the new search service as "our value-add, being able to combine the power of the affiliate network with what's normally viewed as SEM. We're starting with the advertiser in the marketplace. We'll assess what an advertiser needs and manage it all for them." As an example, she cites major league baseball's MLB.com, a client. "We sit down with them and see what they want to drive through a search channel."
CJ competitor KowaBunga! Technologies, launched its own search product, PPC Track, some four months ago. COO Ryan Phelan agrees that SEM services have become essential for online advertisers. Phelan said it's all part of the quest for ROI. "People want to know ROI beyond just affiliate programs. The technology lends itself to track whatever you want. We can track multiple sources, not just affiliate marketing. Pay-per-click, banner ads, whatever."
As online ad networks branch into search, search providers continue bolstering their offerings. Quigo Technologies is announcing that it's adding ROI tracking and analysis to its FeedPoint search engine marketing solution. The company said the new functionality provides cost-of-sales data, enabling customers to evaluate SEM campaigns by keywords, product pages, search engines and other variables.