The Ayima Story
Myself, Tim Webb, Mike Nott and Rob Kerry launched Ayima in mid 2007 as a specialist Organic Search Agency. Back then, the SEO sector was in relative disarray – with “churn and burn” affiliate operations still largely dominant and link networks and the like still quite an effective ranking tool, at least in the short and medium term. SEO was rarely considered to be a legitimate part of a blue-chip marketing campaign.
Our background in the Gaming sector had exposed us to every conceivable SEO technique from the truly spammy to the truly ingenious. Our monitoring of the main and peripheral players in this busy sector over many years had given us very solid data to determine which techniques were effective in generating long term improvements in SERPs and which techniques were most likely to result in penalisation and banishment. Above all, we were able to detect patterns and trends in Google’s treatment of such techniques as their anti-spam measures became more and more sophisticated.
We saw the opportunity to offer a highly professional, long-term and “safe” SEO approach to large, high profile corporations and Ayima was formed. As it turned out, this was a timely decision – SEO was starting to become mainstream and we realised that we had great success in convincing massive household-name companies of our abilities (and then proving it consistently).
The Problem with SEO
Over the years, despite our efforts, we have seen the perception of SEO within the marketing community fluctuate wildly from excitement and elation to boredom and skepticism, whilst PPC has crept in as being a truly mainstream part of the marketing mix, often on the same level of budget and importance as TV and other above the line advertising. We constantly fight for even a tiny fraction of a client’s PPC budget, despite being able to prove time and again that the ROI from even the most basic SEO activities is an order of magnitude above that of PPC.
Part of the problem is credibility – often it is very difficult to get a client to accept the numbers as they can be dramatic – ROI in the 100%’s – and part is the long term, strategic nature of SEO. Our campaigns often don’t reach full potential for over a year from inception, and necessarily require full buy-in from internal IT departments. It takes a lot of political effort to get things done, whereas in the Media/PPC world, the agency can take care of everything, and all you do is sign off the plans and the cheques and wait for the results. Often our client-side sponsor doesn’t hang around long enough to see the fruits of our labour and their replacement has no personal stake in the success of an incumbent campaign, making it an easy target for cost-cutting measures as a new manager seeks to make his mark on the organisation.
Why Did We Not Offer PPC Services in the Past?
With our SEO offering we felt we had something truly unique and exceptional – the most knowledgeable consultants, the best strategy and the best data in the industry – all clear differentiators. PPC always seemed like a much more difficult proposition – many providers did a satisfactory job, most large accounts went to large media agencies, and apart from a few providers who had unique algorithmic approach, very few stood out from the crowd. We felt in such a congested sector it would also be difficult to establish and prove a clear USP.
So Why Now?
Apart from the economic realities of the Search Sector (Paid Search still growing and challenging traditional media for sheer size), we feel now we are indeed able to offer a differentiated service – a uniquely analytical approach that is, like our SEO service, tailored specifically for the large enterprise client.
On a lot of the large accounts we work on from an SEO perspective, we are dismayed at what gets done on the PPC side, usually by big name, global media groups. Service means stacking the meeting room with useless bodies, talking through generic PowerPoint slides. Fees are generally charged on a percentage of spend, which means the bigger the account, the more money these agencies are raking in, despite offering little in terms of innovation, extra effort or increased ROI.
There are plenty of good people and agencies out there as well, but there is definitely a clear opportunity to deliver something fresh and interesting at the enterprise level, where slight improvements in analysis and implementation can deliver millions in profit each month and where it seems most agencies lack the ability or the motivation to deliver a better service and risk eating into their ample margins.
A New Approach to PPC
Ayima have now included paid search into its SERP Analysis and Reporting technology. This means our analysts can better understand the paid and natural search channels whose symbiotic relationship requires a more thoughtful and strategic approach. The advancement of remarketing (retargeting) and display advertising means we can take control of buying cycles and provide better returns, not only through paid activity, but through search as a complete channel. And the rise of mobile, where screen real estate is premium, requires keyword targeting that capitalises on the benefits of the immediacy of paid search and the long-termism of SEO.
Search engines optimise their services around the customer, yet marketers still choose to compartmentalise their search activity, which seems counter-intuitive. Having the ability to align paid and natural search activity will not only make for a more efficient spend, but will also make for a better customer experience. Through this analysis, Ayima has had great success at identifying opportunities for optimizing spend, lowering CPA’s and therefore increasing the range of profitable keywords, allowing overall spend to actually increase yet remain profitable.
To drive and deliver this new approach to Paid Search, Ayima have continued with their policy of hiring only the most skilled and experienced consultants out there. Neil Dawson has recently joined as Director of Paid Services, coming from a decade-long career in the sector including leading the SEO and PPC efforts for the UK’s leading insurers. Neil brings with him a crack team of analysts and PPC specialists who are motivated by delivering results and seeing our clients succeed in their marketplace.