By now, it should be crystal clear that search marketing is every bit as important as online advertising, e-mail marketing, content sponsorships, and Web sites when it comes to achieving success online. With media allocation priorities coming into focus, it's time for interactive marketers to think more critically about search in the context of integration.

While the tools and technology available to search marketers have grown in depth and sophistication, too many practitioners still seem to believe that an effective campaign can be boiled down to bids and clicks. The reality is that the key principles of advertising --relevance, clarity, and cross-media consistency--apply to search just as much as they do to any other online format. Any business can submit its site to search engines and directories. Any business can launch and manage its own paid search campaign. And, getting the coveted click is easier than you might think; it's incorporating search into your overall marketing strategy that takes some doing.

Start with a simple concept such as cross-channel message consistency. In many cases, search campaigns are planned in a vacuum, with little regard for associated messaging in online advertising programs, sponsorships, or even Web sites. This segregated approach to search invites a host of problems. First and foremost, it compromises the uniformity of a campaign, and the integrity of the message that's being delivered. How can you maintain a consistent brand experience when your ad placements are all being planned, created, and managed separately?

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