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As Madison Avenue struggles to adjust to a new world in which savvy advertisers cut back on mass media and branding ad spend, many a big ad agency has announced their entry into the world of paid search management.

Despite what you might read in the pages of Media magazine or Advertising Age, I suspect that the transition from $20,000 retainers and three martini lunches to ROI and transparency has been rocky for many agencies. I still struggle to understand how an agency that is accustomed to charging millions a month to clients can manage to maintain their expensive offices and headcount and make any money from a measly 15% of spend paid search campaign. On top of that, when you have most agency executives trained in “lift” and “brand identity”, it’s hard to imagine these agencies being able to provide profit maximization, which is pretty much the point of paid search.

So, with these thoughts in mind, I thought the messaging of a recent AdSense spot from Acquisio that showed up in my Gmail was quite appropriate. Here’s the ad:

It’s blurry, but in case you can’t read it: PPC Management Tool for Agencies Your Clients Will Love You Again! I love that call to action: Your Clients Will Love You Again! I’ll be the first to admit that I have not batted .1000 with clients – I’ve lost a couple of clients who I guess you could say never “loved” me for my paid search management. But I think I am still around .950 or greater – the Acquisio messaging makes it sound like hitting a blooper once in a series would be a success.

The other message inherent in this ad is that software can solve an agency’s problems – I assume either through better bid management or more likely pretty reports that can show the client that the agency is doing something. While I do believe that software is a must for large paid search campaigns, if your underlying paid search optimization approach isn’t sound in the first place, there is no software that acts as a panacea to cure all your ills.

But hey, if I’m an agency exec that sees that Acquisio ad, and I’ve had a hard time keeping paid search clients in the portfolio, I’d probably be willing to believe that software could be my magic ticket. Oh for those halcyon days of the 1980s – when client boondoggles and million dollar monthly invoices were par for the course! Sorry agencies, the days of “corporate unaccountability” are numbered, even with Acquisio.