Furniture.com Adds to Its Search Marketing Decor

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Furniture.com Inc., an e-commerce platform for the Levitz, Seaman's and Harlem Furniture chains, is ramping up its search marketing efforts with a new paid placement program.


The effort aims to drive Web traffic to www.furniture.com and capture leads for use by the company's retail partners. Boston online ad agency Overdrive Marketing Communications handles the assignment.


"Search marketing's where targeting meets timing," said Michael Donovan, managing partner of Overdrive. "We're reaching people near Furniture.com partner stores exactly when they're interested in buying or investigating furniture purchases."


Chief among Overdrive's duties are keyword development, surgical bid management, reporting, analyzing and optimizing. Engines in the plan are Google, Overture and LookSmart.


The agency will use geo-targeted search marketing to match the footprint of Levitz, Seaman's and Harlem Furniture. The first two companies are on both coasts while Harlem Furniture operates in the Chicago region. Donovan is aware of a key challenge in this search approach.


"Geo-targeting is still relatively new," he said. "Overture just rolled out its program and has yet to work out its kinks."


A well-known name in the high-tech heyday, Furniture.com went bust along with a host of other online-only companies. Two former employees bought the company out of bankruptcy with help from a private equity firm.


Furniture.com lets consumers browse, compare and buy branded furniture and accessories. It offers decorating advice, product information and design tools.


Part of Overdrive's management came out of the Donovan Group, which closed in 2001 after the high-tech meltdown. Donovan was part of that agency. Furniture.com was one of its major accounts. Overdrive's clients include Factiva, LoJack, Boston University, Legal Seafoods, Keane, Sonexis, Symmetricom, Boston's Children's Museum and the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.


Overdrive has agreed to be paid, in part, for improvements in traffic to Furniture.com.


Paid search is Furniture.com's main lead generation tactic. Its partner retailers use traditional advertising such as newspaper, radio, television and fliers. Furniture.com does the online portion. Plans call for organic search engine optimization, online ads and e-mail.


"We're entirely performance-based," Donovan said. "We measured their cost-per-click rates prior to the program and must earn our keep by driving down costs of the program while keeping performance -- in terms of impressions and clicks -- the same or better."


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