Published: Ad News 25th Feb 2009

SYDNEY: BankWest has appointed search specialist agency First Rate to its search engine marketing (SEM) account following a competitive pitch with incumbent Starcom MediaVest.

The win follows BankWest’s agency reshuffle in January, which saw it hand strategic planning duties to Host’s start-up media unit Bring and media buying to Ikon, which dislodged Starcom, also the media incumbent (click here for story).

BankWest chief marketing officer David Morgan said First Rate’s appointment formalised the bank’s search arrangements following Starcom doing some “ad hoc” SEM work.

First Rate’s commission would not impact on work being done for the bank by digital agency Longtail, which it appointed in October last year, Morgan said.

First Rate is a member of the Sydney-based Q Ltd Group of companies. It provides strategies for SEMSEO, email marketing and performance-based online advertising and tracking services.

Mark Halstead, Q Ltd head of sales & marketing, said the group has been experiencing “significant year-on-year growth in search”.

“More clients realise how important search is to overall strategy and there’s been a lot of activity from bigger clients needing SEM work.

“Everyone wants to feature on the home page of Google. Search is also extremely measurable, you can see where you rank.”

Figures released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) show search is the fasted growing sector in online advertising, comprising 48.5% of the total pie in the December quarter 2008, an increase of 2% from the previous year.

Search and direct marketing totalled $807 million in 2008, up 30% on the previous year.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in banking who doesn’t think search is important,” Morgan said.

“All the financial services companies are using search more heavily than you’d anticipate and we’re one of them.”

Story by: Matt Porter