Last year, we exposed a shady sales tactic used by Meltwater Reach to poach SEM clients from other agencies. Simply put, Meltwater would send a generic but ominous-sounding email to a marketing manager claiming to have discovered deeply troubling flaws in a company’s current SEM campaign. We had about a dozen of our clients (none of which were fooled) get pretty much the same email from Meltwater, which you can read about here and here.

Last month, it was announced that Meltwater Reach had been acquired by GearyLSF. GearyLSF is a legit, savvy marketing company; I know several people from that organization, and they are smart, well-meaning folks. The acquisition of Meltwater was likely a way for GearyLSF to reach SMBs and potentially shore up their SEM presence. Sadly, whether the management team at GearyLSF knows it or not, Meltwater is now up to the same old scare tactics as before, but this time under the GearyLSF name. A client forwarded this email to me today:

Hey [Redacted],

Thanks for your brief time on the phone today.

I’ve been doing research on your AdWords account and have come across a number of problems running live. These include but are not limited to:

·         Serving untargeted ads

·         Serving ads on irrelevant queries

·         Extremely poor page rank (not showing up on the first or second SERP)

·         Not serving ads on high volume, highly relative queries

·         Weak branded campaign

·         Lack of free ad extensions / site links etc.

As you’re well aware, these are all cyclical in nature and are more detrimental to your accounts health the longer they run, not to mention hindering your ROI.

The preface where I’m coming from – my team here at GearyLSF works with many IR500 retailers such Citrix Systems, Intel, Ashley Furniture, Sharper Image, The Palms Hotel and Casino (Vegas), Perry Ellis and many other companies to help them drive more profit out of paid search and display campaigns, utilizing best practices when it comes to optimization as well as technology from our partner Kenshoo (used my Apple, Wal-Mart, Expedia etc. previously unavailable to advertisers spending less than a few hundred thousand dollars per month). We currently managing over $120M annually just in AdWords and have done hundreds and hundreds of audits. From what I can see simply on the outward facing side of your account there is a ton of opportunity!

I’d love to connect with the appropriate parties on your end to discuss these issues in more detail as well as cover how to best approach a fix.

Does any particular time work well for you tomorrow or next week?

Best Regards,


Account Executive

Geary LSF | Digital Marketing Group


Aside from the fact that none of the clients mentioned appear to be “Internet Retailer 500” companies (Does Intel sell anything online?), and a few typos, the most troubling thing to me is the vague claims of errors that are “cyclical in nature and are more detrimental to your accounts health the longer they run.” Let’s call a spade a spade here: this is a form letter without any substantiation of these claims because, well, it’s a form letter – the sales rep has likely done no research on this account. It’s no different than a Tarot reader telling someone “you have a bright future, filled with happiness. Someone near to you will soon need your help.”

I have nothing against account audits – indeed, we do them both for potential clients and internally for our existing accounts – but I’m disgusted by form-letter scare tactics that implicitly accuse an existing agency of doing a bad job for its clients.  Again, I know the folks at GearyLSF are generally above this sort of lowbrow stuff, so I’m hoping that this is a Meltwater Reach legacy issue that will soon be resolved.

For the record, here’s what the client wrote me, which I think is absolutely classic: “Thought you might like to see how your competitors are cold calling.  I like the tactic of telling us what we’re doing sucks.  They must have a lot of clients with poor self-esteem.”

– David Rodnitzky, CEO


  1. PPC Associates November 12th, 2012

    Oh, Meltwater Reach (now doing business as GearyLSF), Will You Ever Learn?

  2. Terry Whalen November 12th, 2012

    I thought Sharper Image was out of business – but it looks like they are still around and spending maybe $20,000 or so per month according to SpyFu. One of the latest products being promoted by Sharper Image is a men’s heated jacket, but I see no paid ads for same from Sharper Image – even though 10+ competitors have ads for related heated apparel. The Palms looks like its spending around $6,000 per month. Perry Ellis, under $10,000 (probably mostly brand terms). When I search on ‘perry ellis “paisley shirt”‘ I just get a generic brand ad pointing to the home page, rather than a page with paisley shirts. (Even when I click ‘shop now’ from the home page promo banner, I am not taken to a paisley shirt page, or even a shirt page.) Also, Macy’s – not Perry Ellis – is showing the product listing ad (PLA) for a Perry Ellis paisley shirt.

    What does it mean to say the lack of site extensions and poor targeting is cyclical in nature?

  3. David Rodnitzky November 12th, 2012

    Terry, how dare you evaluate Meltwater’s work – scare tactics are only supposed to be a one-way street!

    But I agree with you, the Palms and a bankrupt electronics store don’t strike me as IR 500 companies anyway.

  4. Jonas Oppedal November 12th, 2012

    Terry, Sharper Image did close its approximately 200 stores and filed for bankruptcy in 2008. However, in 2009 they launched an e-commerce site with the help of Camelot Venture Group. As for Perry Ellis, they are a customer of ours but they do not outsource management of their PPC program to us. They license technology from us so I can’t really speak to their PPC program, however I’m sure they will appreciate your observations.

  5. Jonas Oppedal November 12th, 2012

    David, you are calling out a number of areas where we can improve our communication to what we consider prospects, and I certainly appreciate the feedback. In fact, after I came across your blog post today I sat down with our sales team to discuss steps we can take to ensure that the information we send is always factual, clear and hopefully helpful to the audience it was intended for. Judging by the email you shared in your post today we can indeed do a better job with that.

    In your post it appears that you are making at least one key assumption that is inaccurate – that our sales reps are not doing any research before they reach out to a prospect. Our team members are in fact doing a significant amount of research before approaching an advertiser. Our observations are typically shared with the advertiser in a subsequent phone meeting where we share concrete examples from our research. If you would like I’d be open to discuss our methodology with you in person. Hopefully this would help clear up what I believe is a misinterpretation of both the intent of our outreach and our practice.

    As for our new friends at Geary LSF I agree with you 100%. They are hard working, knowledgeable and, like you wrote, well-meaning folks that have provided a great new ‘home’ for our team. I wish you and your team at PPC Associates a successful fourth quarter.

  6. Christine McKelvey May 21st, 2013

    I have been receiving emails and phone calls from this company but had not returned them because something seemed off to me. Now I know why – thank you for posting this.

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.