Search Star Making Global Venture Click

Q&A: 10 Years Removed from 'Special Hell,' Marckini Plots a Multinational Search Model

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Fredrick Marckini quit a job in Washington 10 years ago and, determined to write a business plan, moved back in with his parents in Boston at age 30. "It was," he recalls, tongue in cheek, "a special kind of hell."
Fredrick Marckini
Fredrick Marckini

His idea: to build a business around a software program that would measure a subject's ranking in a search engine. A serendipitous encounter with a software developer developed into a business partnership and the launch of Response Direct, which provided search-engine positioning to clients. Later, he changed the name to iProspect, and after a growth spurt, he sold iProspect to Aegis Group's Isobar in 2004. Last year, months before the conclusion of Mr. Marckini's two-year earn-out in December, Isobar CEO Nigel Morris offered him a new job: chief global search officer for the digital network, reporting directly to him.

Now 40 and no longer living with his parents, he is taking on the challenge. Here, he talks to Ad Age reporter Lisa Sanders about his role -- and the future of search.

Advertising Age: What is a chief global search officer? Why have one?

Fredrick Marckini: Search marketing is beguilingly sophisticated and complicated. The expertise required to create and implement a successful search campaign multiplies when countries are added. Up until now, marketers have used multiple search-engine marketing firms, generally one in each country. That means they must interpret multiple reports, which can be a nightmare. The promise of Isobar is a campaign that can be rolled out in every major market with consistent reporting ... and results that can be improved uniformly. My job is to ensure consistency of service globally.

AA: What appeals to you about this job?

Mr. Marckini: I love the challenge and competitiveness of the role. Plain and simple, in search marketing the race for "global" is on, and we plan to win. Second, the team: Isobar has 2,240 people in 37 countries. Getting all of our practices synchronized is a little bit like herding cats, but I happen to love cats.

AA: In the U.S., major search engines are Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. What's different about the rest of the world?

Mr. Marckini: In Western Europe, Google dominates. In Asia, Yahoo is more important in many markets than Google. In the Netherlands, there's a search engine, which is No. 2 to Google. Searches in Asia, for instance, can be very different from those in other parts of the world because people connect to the internet via mobile devices so much more than via computers, which changes the types of searches they conduct and the language of their search.

AA: For a global marketer, what's the value of your role for a search-engine marketing campaign conducted in multiple countries?

Mr. Marckini: Today, there exists no seamless, global network of integrated search-engine marketing firms other than Isobar. The global marketer may or may not interact with me or my team personally because often their local search agency will be their primary contact. But the network and my team will be growing to ensure we're in every major market. We have a lot of educating to do in most markets.

The majority of marketers outside of the U.S. are executing paid-only search-marketing strategies. ... Internationally, while many brands are already believers in search, they are not yet believers in the full spectrum of search strategies. A single tactic is not enough in any country. Brands must follow a strategy that's consistent with how audiences use search engines and where they click.
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