NEW YORK Steve Governale, head of Starcom MediaVest Group's search practice, has left the agency to join AT&T.
In his place, the Publicis Groupe network has named Jill Balis managing director of SMG Search, part of the SMG Performance Marketing unit. Balis previously served as director of consumer analytics and strategy at SMG PM, which Starcom MediaVest set up earlier this year.
As head of the search practice, Balis will manage 55 search pros and devise strategy for clients like General Motors, Wal-Mart, ESPN and Continental. She reports to SMG PM evp Nancy Mullahy.
Governale left SMG Search to take a position in digital marketing at AT&T in Dallas. He led the unit since its founding in 2005 and spent 10 years at Starcom MediaVest.
Prior to joining SMG PM, Balis spent over six years at Orbitz directing its Internet marketing efforts, which were heavily weighted toward search advertising.
Balis said her background in analytics helps her appreciate the role search plays in crafting integrated marketing campaigns. Unlike standalone search firms, SMG Search can more easily plan campaigns where search is linked with other marketing initiatives.
"Sometimes, people look at each channel separately and do a disservice to overall marketing objectives," she said. "You can't look at things separately."
One particular area of interest: engagement mapping, the new tool from Microsoft's Atlas unit that parses advertising attribution beyond the final click standard. More often than not, this means increasing the credit given to ads that were seen and even engaged without leading to an action.
"It allows you to alter your media mix," Balis said. "Search is the most efficient channel, but if you don't have the other media supporting it, it's not going to be as efficient. What it does is allow us to make sure we're shifting money to the right places."