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SMG Taps Search Exec

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NEW YORK Starcom MediaVest Group has hired a former Beyond Interactive executive to bolster its search practice.

Neeraj Kochar, 35, joins the media agency's SMG Search unit after three years at WPP Group-owned Beyond. There, he was director of media technology and search.

Kochar will work with MediaVest director of digital connections Eric Bader on integrating search in campaigns. He reports to SMG Search director Steve Governale.

Search is rising on agencies' agendas as clients earmark more spending in that area. That's led shops like Ogilvy to engage more search specialists. Interpublic Group improved its expertise by adding Reprise Media in April.

"With search marketing becoming central to client communications strategies, we believe in Neeraj we found someone who has an incredible sense for overall marketing strategy and advertising," said SMG CEO Laura Desmond, in a statement. SMG is owned by Publicis Groupe.

Prior to joining Beyond, Kochar spent over six years at DoubleClick, where he initially worked on the launch of its DART ad-serving product. Later, Kochar was part of the team that advised DoubleClick clients on using its various technology services to run integrated campaigns.

SMG Search works with clients like Disney, General Motors and Sara Lee. It recently completed a campaign for Second Harvest that harnessed traffic generated from the organization's sponsorship of an American Idol charity episode.