Searching for the right customers

A Providence marketing firm specializes in pay-per-click advertising

TYPE OF BUSINESS: Paid search (pay-per-click) marketing firm
LOCATION: 180 Elmgrove Ave., Providence
OWNERS: Soren Ryherd, president; Vida Jakabhazy, vice president

At Working Planet Marketing Group Inc., the idea is to put a company’s product before as many relevant eyes as possible. But in the Internet age, getting the proper placement isn’t as cut-and-dried as taking out a billboard or newspaper ad, say the company’s owners.

In fact, they say, one important strategy for a successful ad campaign is to keep some consumers away.

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Working Planet, a 3-year-old firm based in Providence, specializes in paid search marketing, which is sometimes referred to as pay-per-click marketing. Owned by husband and wife Soren Ryherd and Vida Jakabhazy, the company works to place ads on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and, among others.

It’s the new medium for advertising, Ryherd said. A company taking out an ad on Google through Google AdWords is looking to get the best placement on the site when a search-engine user researches topics related to that firm’s products. For example, a mortgage company will seek to be highly visible on the strip of ads running alongside a Google search for refinancing.

But the payment structure in the 4-year-old industry differs from that of traditional marketing campaigns. In the print world, a company will take out an ad for a price with the agreement that it will run for a certain amount of time or for a certain number of issues. In the search-engine world, a company agrees to pay a certain amount every time an Internet user clicks on the company’s site through the ad service.

Rates on Google can range from 10 cents per click to as much as $10 per click for the most popular search terms – which can add up for a company generating a lot of interest. Even the smaller search sites charge 1 cent per click.

According to Ryherd, that’s where Working Planet comes in. For clients including Webmail.Us, Daniel’s Jewelers and America Hears, Working Planet seeks to keep the click-through traffic as relevant as possible. The goal is not putting the page before as many eyes as possible – it’s generating the most appropriate traffic for a given client.

“It’s not as much about getting their name out as it is about getting money in the bank,” Ryherd said.

To accomplish that, Working Planet starts by linking a company to thousands of words. So when an Internet user searches for something related to what the company offers, its name will pop up.

But because there’s a fee for every click, Working Planet also attempts to weed out Internet users looking for something the company doesn’t offer, by including “negative” search words. So if a consumer is looking for a free trial, for example, and the company doesn’t offer one, its name won’t come up in a search.

The idea is to offer the company’s clients the greatest possible return on their advertising investment, Jakabhazy said. Without a proper strategy, a company with a monthly marketing budget of $5,000 can spend the whole amount in one day.

“You’re talking millions of dollars that just evaporate,” she said.

The Working Planet process begins with in-depth communications with the client, to determine the client’s business models and goals, customers, prospects and marketing messages. The firm then incorporates the information into its initial plan, which eventually serves as a blueprint for the campaign.

After a campaign goes live, the next 30 days are spent testing search terms and ad copy, statistically determining what is producing the best results for the client. That tracking continues, so Working Planet can ensure that each of its clients is receiving the optimal placement and solid returns.

It’s a growing field, for both Working Planet and the industry as a whole. In 2007, Working Planet anticipates $12 million in media buying. Across the marketing sector, Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing have dominated the industry. But in 2006, MSN started its own such service, MSN adCenter.

Ryherd and Jakabhazy said their clients have begun abandoning traditional outlets, such as newspapers and the Yellow Pages. In fact, the Yellow Pages, which functions like a search engine in its Web-based form, has implemented a pay-per-click advertising component.

“It’s a mainstream form of marketing now,” Ryherd said.