Carat Interactive Boosts Search Practice

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Carat Interactive, an agency division of media buying and planning firm Carat North America, gave the search engine marketing segment a shot in the arm by appointing a senior executive to handle those responsibilities.


As vice president of search engine marketing, Ron Belanger is to build Boston-based Carat Interactive's practice in that area. He previously was vice president of account development at search firm Inceptor Inc., running client services on NCR Corp., Sun Microsystems and Best Buy Co.


"We're putting a stake in the ground," Carat Interactive president Sarah Fay said. "We're seeking an advantage for offering a higher level of search.


"The agency model right now is to have an account person play the lead and search people in the background. I think when you get right down to it, there's a whole lot of strategy and strategic thinking that goes behind formulating a search program where there's value a senior person can offer."


Search marketing continues to lead the growth in online advertising, accounting for 29 percent of total ad revenue in the first half of this year, up from 8 percent in the year-ago period. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, New York, and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported those numbers.


Carat Interactive's search marketing services include paid inclusion and placement. It also offers organic search engine optimization. The agency claimed a recent search campaign for Hyatt increased the hotel chain's online bookings while decreasing the estimated cost per lead by 30 percent.


Belanger's appointment likely will boost Carat Interactive's relations with search firms like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask Jeeves, Overture, FindWhat and LookSmart.


"There are fewer persons in the search place," Fay said, "but that means there is all the more need to foster better relationships with senior management, and because their time is fragmented."


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