Search agencies defy IPA over Google media policy

Search marketers are declaring their support for Google over its decision to scrap agency commission in Europe, in a move that strikes a blow to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Digital Marketing Group (MW last week).

Dedicated search agencies say the issue is not new and that, while the loss of commission is a blow for many in the immediate future, Google’s new policy – agency best-practice funding – looks likely to offer greater opportunities in the longer term.

There is also widespread agreement that Google’s existing policy was far from clear. One industry source says that the situation has been chaotic with vast differences in the deals agencies have been able to secure.

Edward Cowell, technical director at search agency Neutralise, says: “The current policy, whatever it is because Google refuses to define it, is indiscriminate and damaging to many agencies and advertisers.”

He says that Google’s existing model seems to reward traditional media agencies that treat search as they would any other media buy. This ignores the skill of search marketers in achieving complex cost-per-acquisition-based targets. He adds that some agencies also receive commission, IPA member or not, while others are refused.

Cowell says: “The new programme is a positive move in terms of clarity of policies and fairness. There are some areas that need looking at more closely because they could cause cashflow issues. However, it is a good move by Google if it applies an equal policy to all advertisers with no exceptions.”

Matt Davidson, director at search marketing agency Goldladder, agrees: “Naturally, no agency welcomes a loss of revenue, but Google’s move is certainly an attempt to level the playing field.”

Quartz Interactive chief executive Paul Mead, says: “Fundamentally, I am very pleased. This a fast-growing sector and new companies need to know that they are competing in a fair market.”

Arjo Ghosh, managing director of Spannerworks, says: “If Google invests in this channel by implementing proper partner support and if agencies are handled in a consistent manner, this has to be a good thing.”

The Search Marketers Association is to meet Google next week for talks.

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