How Important are SEO and Digital?

By Matt Van Hoven 

There’s a debate among traditional and new advertisers about where companies should be spending their money.

“The problem stems from lack of experience. SEO is an older marketing method…,” said The Founder of Tribble Ad Agency. “It’s been around for at least a dozen years now…since Altavista was the kingpin of search, and a handful of us have been around since that time doing search engine optimization. However agencies are trying to now hire individuals to run their ‘SEO department’ and that’s the problem.”

Full story here.

When nothing else seemed to be working for automaker GM, this report came out that the company will be spending half, as in 50 percent, of its ad budget in online. That’s $1.5 billion, with a “b.”

Yet detractors from this new line of thinking are having a go at search marketing. In our coverage of the Jeff Scott departure, we learned chairman of Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Steve Harty told AdWeek the following:

“We’re not convinced that the people we are marketing to are using that as a channel…We have a more targeted strategy than, ‘We’re open for business.’ Search is kind of indiscriminate in a way. We’re looking for a few large clients, not lots of lead generation,’ he said.”

I’ll bet Mr. Harty is glad he didn’t pitch GM with two billboards and a 30-second spot. Considering the times though, could it hurt for spiraling shops to sing a different tune or is it too late for them to adapt? Mike Lebowitz of Big Spaceship told me staying small allows his eight year-old shop to stay current, and that doing one thing, well, has kept him inside the earning pool. No wonder BBDO took credit at Cannes. Sort of.

What do you all think &#151 can traditional shops survive without buying up digital/SEO people?