I am still amazed at how many companies are willing to trust the search companies with their budgets as opposed to hiring an agency or firm. Money is tight, still… but of all the places to cut cost, that is not one of them. OK, so I'm biased but it really does make sense. This article hits a few of the key points.

SEM Firms: Search Engine Friend or Foe?:

"Case Study: Yahoo!

Although this case study doesn't involve PPC search engine advertising at Yahoo, it does involve keyword purchases. Specifically, it involves banner advertising campaigns rather than text ads.

Yahoo came out with a new feature. When we contacted our client about it, we learned an overzealous Yahoo sales rep had already contacted this client… before the news was released to the general public. Needless to say, it was embarrassing to us as long-term Yahoo supporters. We had to do damage control because clearly the sales rep wanted to steal our client.

Fortunately, we kept the client. Here's why:

Though search engine sales reps have search data SEMs don't, they aren't always the most knowledgeable search experts. A newbie sales rep's knowledge is no match against a search engine marketer who's analyzed user behavior and tested for years.

The search engine sales rep is devoted to the search engine, not the advertiser. Search engines make money every time a user clicks on an ad. Therefore (understandably), their reps encourage as many clicks as possible.

Search engine marketers focus on conversions, not clicks. At least, the good ones do. An ad can receive lots of clicks but have a low conversion rate. Or, it can receive few clicks and enjoy high conversions.

In this instance, the Yahoo rep wasn't a graphic designer; she couldn't design banners. Thanks to her lack of search experience (she was a newbie), Web analytics and behavior tracking experience, and graphic design skills, we were able to keep our client.

But we no longer trust that rep. We switched to a Yahoo rep in a different state, one we find more trustworthy.

The moral? When we found a sales rep to work with us rather than against us"