Managed PPC Search
When we started this work in the year 2000, there was very little competition. Banner ads were the dominate form of digital advertising. It was a bit like the wild wild west and just a few of us were inventing PPC Search services on the fly. Marketers knew search engines were important but the idea of paying for placement was an unproven, new concept. It took years for traditional advertising agencies to figure out that Google and Overture (at the time) had unleashed the greatest mechanism to reach new customers in years. When Google went public in 2004 and had to disclose their financials to the public that immediately got everyone's attention. Our job got a little harder, but we had the early advantage.
Today there is heavy competition in this space; however there are still very few digital agencies that truly understand the medium. Echoes of that shady, wild wild west mentality still exist. Advertising agencies know the importance of PPC search, but they can't figure out how to manage it profitably, so they tend to put their lowest level staff in charge of it. The truth is that full service advertising agencies don't want to deal with PPC Search, but they know it works extremely well. They only want to manage search campaigns as part of a broad effort that includes a list of confusing 'black box' solutions that force their clients to spend way more money than necessary.
The dirty truth is that most businesses just need their paid search managed efficiently. They may need a one-time audit of their organic search effort and if social media is important to their customer base they need to manage social media internally. The majority of what digital agencies offer today is just excess 'bloat', that provides little to no value other than to keep theirlights on.
With proper execution, PPC (pay-per-click) search is one of the most effective marketing tools ever created. It is a results-oriented, customer driven, real-time marketing program that levels the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses.
For the majority of businesses today, paid search should be the primary marketing effort. For those locked into working with a full service digital agency this is still the case, but they are simply paying for so much more that they don't need.