It's no surprise that search marketing is broadening to include other media, but just because we're evolving beyond the engine doesn't mean marketers should blind themselves to basic need. In a recent Forrester Wave report, the research company evaluated 100 search marketing vendors against both fresh and traditional criteria to determine who might guide us to a successful adjustment strategy. 

Sticking to the Basics

Today only 61% of consumers rely on traditional search engines to find websites. This number dropped from 83% in 2004, and is expected to decline even further as users increasingly rely on content, applications, or peer recommendations.

And while it may seem natural to assume that such radical change would translate to the total redesigning of tools, Forrester argues that it's still about the basics. Here's why: 

  • Paid search and SEO expertise: Search marketing accounts for the majority of interactive marketer's budgets, thus proficient management partners are still needed. 
  • Specialized Support: Advanced search marketing still requires specialized support. As search programs evolve to include mobile devices, biddable display media, and advanced analytics, marketers will still turn to specialists.
  • Standalone isn't everything: While standalone technologies are helpful and inexpensive, they don’t provide comprehensive support. Rather, they work best when leveraged by agencies or internal search resources.

From 100 to 9

After screening 100 agencies and technology solutions, Forrester found nine that best matched these basic services in addition to newer requirements spawned by the explosion of media outlets and consumerization. Criteria also included a US-based location, a blend of paid search and SEO, and enterprise client support: 

Forrester Wave: US Search Marketing Agencies, Q1 ’11


Here's a quick look at the best of the best:


iCrossing is a global digital marketing agency that aims to help brands find and connect with their customers. The company blends digital marketing services — including paid search, search engine optimization, Web development, social media, mobile, research and analytics — to create integrated digital marketing programs. Their client base includes The LEGO Group, Epson America, Toyota, The Coca-Cola Company and MasterCard. Forrester specifically paraised the company's forecast-based approach to campaign planning, its qualitative and quantitative research skills, its breadth of social and mobile experience, and its clear strategic vision.


360i is a New York-based interactive agency that was founded in 1998. The company's strategies focus on helping brands connect with consumers in both rational and emotional ways. Clients include The Coca-Cola Company, NBC Universal, Kraft Foods and Office Depot. The Forrester report highlighted 360i's social media capabilities and optimization of off-site assets (videos, blog content, etc.)


Impaqt specializes in data-rich, search-specific area of online marketing. Forrester was particularly impressed by the company's tools for bidding across a portfolio of multiple media and its proprietary tools for supporting brand advertisers and international SEO programs.

Meanwhile, strong performers included Rosetta, Performics, iProspect, Razorfish and Covario, and The Search Agency was labeled a contender. 

Check out the full report here (via iCrossing).