News and Press

news 07/15/2014

July 15, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – Leading full-service digital marketing agency, RKG, a Merkle company, released its Digital Marketing Report covering the second quarter of 2014 today. By analyzing data across its client base, which includes 50 of the IR Top 500 Retailers, RKG’s report provides insight into digital trends for search, SEO, product listing ads, display advertising, social media, comparison shopping engines and more.

After a slow start to the calendar year, U.S. paid search spending growth accelerated during the second quarter. Google saw a 24% increase in ad spend from Q2 of last year, as Product Listing Ads (PLAs) continue to produce huge growth, while Bing Ads search spending grew 19% from last year across Bing, Yahoo, and search partners.

Mobile traffic continues to produce strong growth, while desktop traffic continues to decline. Smartphone clicks grew by 47% year-over-year, compared to a 43% increase for tablets and a 2% decline for desktop.

Product Ads Continue to Exhibit Impressive Growth

Image-based product ads continue to see much higher growth than traditional text ads. Search advertiser spending on product ads in Q2 rose 72% over last year, while text ad spending grew just 6%. PLA share of total Google clicks remained steady from last quarter, at 26% of overall paid search clicks and 50% of non-brand clicks.

With Google’s upcoming transition to a new PLA campaign structure next month, RKG data found that conversion rates continue to be higher for PLAs, resulting in a 13% higher ROI than text ads, and suggesting continued growth opportunities for this ad format. More »

news 07/02/2014

Columbia, Md. – July 2, 2014 – Merkle (www.merkleinc.com), a leading technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm and the nation’s largest privately-held agency, announced that it has acquired RKG (www.rimmkaufman.com), a leading search and digital marketing agency based in Charlottesville, Va.

This is Merkle’s second digital agency acquisition in 2014, demonstrating the company’s commitment to an aggressive growth strategy in scaling its own digital agency business, whose 2013 net revenue exceeded 2012 by greater than 43%. In the 2014 AdAge Agency Report, Advertising Age named Merkle|IMPAQT the 10th largest and fastest-growing search agency in the U.S. The report also listed RKG as one of the fastest-growing independent search agencies for the second consecutive year. Additionally, RKG works with more Internet Retailer Top 500® clients than any other search agency. Merkle’s integration of RKG results in expanded digital media capabilities and adds nearly 220 employees to the Merkle team, which now consists of more than 720 experts in digital strategy, creative, user experience, web/mobile development, media, search, email, and social. The combination of Merkle and RKG has created a truly scaled media agency, with estimated 2014 media billings in excess of $600 million.

Merkle was initially drawn to RKG because of its well-recognized digital marketing talent, its service-oriented approach, and its digital media capabilities used to create effective, data-driven solutions in pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), comparison shopping engine services (CSEs), display, and social. In addition, RKG’s deep expertise and penetration in retail and other key markets complements Merkle’s industry-focused approach.

“The acquisition of RKG supports Merkle’s dedication to helping world-class brands attain the Platform Marketer™ competencies they need to capitalize on the massive opportunity of addressability at scale, which has been brought about by the digital audience platforms,” said Craig Dempster, executive vice president and digital agency group leader for Merkle. “RKG represents the best of breed in search, display, social and other digital media marketing solutions, and we are delighted to have them join the Merkle family.”

RKG CEO, George Gallate, commented on the acquisition, “As a progressive performance-based team whose primary focus is fostering growth for our clients, we were honored to be approached by another high-growth, independent agency. Merkle is a proven leader in creating customer experiences that drive outstanding marketing performance in addressable media, and we’re proud to join its ranks. Our two companies also share a similar energy and passion for success, which are the makings of a perfect cultural fit.”

About RKG
Founded in 2003, RKG is a search and digital marketing agency that combines superior marketing talent with world-class digital media capabilities to create the industry’s most effective data-driven digital marketing solutions. RKG drives business to clients by maximizing a full range of opportunities including paid search, SEO, product listing ads, social media, display advertising and comparison shopping engine management services. A privately held company, RKG is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA with offices in Bend, OR and Boston, MA. For more information visit www.rimmkaufman.com or follow the company on Twitter @rimmkaufman.

About Merkle
Merkle, a technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm, is the nation’s largest privately-held agency. For more than 25 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. By combining a complete range of marketing, technical, analytical and creative disciplines, Merkle works with clients to design, execute and evaluate connected CRM programs. With more than 2,100 employees, the privately held corporation is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland with additional offices in Boston; Chicago; Denver; Hagerstown; Little Rock; London; Minneapolis; Montvale, NJ; Nanjing; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Shanghai. For more information, contact Merkle at 1-877-9-Merkle, visit www.merkleinc.com or follow the company on Twitter @MerkleCRM.

news 06/11/2014

June 11, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – RKG, a digital marketing company based in Charlottesville, VA, welcomed its first formal intern class on Monday, June 9th. Given the success RKG has seen from employing interns in the past – many of whom are now full-time employees – the agency worked to expand and formalize the program. Designed to give college students firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to work in the digital marketing industry, participants of the program will also enjoy a broad range of experiences to introduce them to the culture of RKG.

Interns will have the opportunity to experience and give back to the Charlottesville community by participating in RKG “giving back” events, including a volunteer day with Habitat for Humanity on Friday, June 13th. Organized by RKG’s Giving Back Committee, which has partnered with Habitat for four years, interns will join other RKG employees to help build affordable housing in the Charlottesville community. More »

news 05/29/2014

Read RKG’s Director of Research Mark Ballard’s thoughts on ‘How Google Can Help Enhanced Campaigns Reach Their Potential’ in this article on Search Engine Land.

news 05/06/2014

May 6, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – For the second year in a row, RKG, a leading search and digital marketing agency, has the highest number of Internet Retailer Top 500® clients of any other search agency, and provides digital marketing services to over 15% of the IR Top 500® retailers that partner with an agency in some capacity.

Each year, Internet Retailer releases its Top 500 Guide®, which ranks the largest retail web sites in terms of their e-commerce sales from the previous year. RKG works with 50 of the IR Top 500® retailers listed in the 2014 guide, up from 44 in 2013 – working with 10 more clients than the second closest agency, iProspect.

“We are excited to once again be the search agency with the most IR Top 500 clients,” said George Gallate, RKG CEO. “The fact that RKG continues to be the preferred search agency partner for top retailers underlines our expertise at delivering performance-driven results that matter to retailers. The combination of our powerful, proprietary technology and smart account teams continues to set us apart from the competition.” More »

news 04/28/2014

RKG Outpaces Search Industry Growth by 253%

April 28, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – RKG, a leading search and digital marketing agency, was again recognized as the fastest growing independent search agency by Advertising Age for the second consecutive year, according to the 2014 AdAge Agency Report for Largest U.S. Search-Marketing Agencies.

AdAge’s 2014 Agency Report saw RKG move up three places from last year, to 15th largest search agency, ranking among the top three search agencies in terms of overall growth.

“RKG continues to see notable growth across all our service offerings by leveraging our proprietary technology to help our clients achieve Digital Visibility,” said George Gallate, RKG CEO. “As the fastest-growing independent search agency last year, we’re extremely proud to see our continued momentum again represented in the AdAge Agency Report. Our priority is helping our clients grow and surpass their digital objectives, and that’s what we remain focused on as we move forward.”

RKG saw search revenue grow by 47% in 2013, more than triple the industry average. Since 2008, RKG’s search offering has grown by more than 300%, and the company saw overall growth of 50% last year alone.
More »

news 04/22/2014

In AdWords latest blog about ‘Sharing the Latest AdWords Innovations,’ RKG is featured in the section title ‘Better Measurement=Better Campaigns:’

“The feedback on Estimated Total Conversions has been great, so we’re continuing to invest in this product. As people search more online for local businesses and then go into the store to make purchases, we’re testing ways to measure the effectiveness of search ads at driving in-store sales, using anonymized purchase data from retail partners. RKG and fashion retailer, Express, very early testers, found that overall return on ad spend increases 102% when including offline sales in online advertising results.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

news 04/16/2014

From the Wall Street Journal:

Google Shares Slide After Disappointing Results
Smaller-Than-Seen Earnings Increase Comes as Company Deals With Less Money Per Ad Click

Google Inc. GOOGL -4.98% posted a 3.2% increase in first-quarter net income amid a continuing decline in how much advertisers pay per click, as users shift to smartphones and tablets.
The Internet-search giant said revenue rose 19% to $15.42 billion. Analysts had projected revenue of $15.54 billion on that basis, according to Thomson Reuters.

Investors were disappointed by Google’s financial figures, sending its shares down 5% in after-hours trading. The stock finished 4 p.m. trading at $563.90, barely higher than the price at the beginning of 2014.

Google reported net income of $3.45 billion, or $5.04 per share, up from earnings in the year-earlier period of $3.35 billion, or $4.97 per share. The per-share figures are adjusted for the two-for-one stock split.

Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, Google said earnings were $6.27 per share, below the average analyst estimate of $6.41 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Advertising revenue was driven by more clicks on advertiser links next to Google’s search results, which increased 26% from the prior year. At the same time, the amount Google gets paid per click fell 9% compared with the prior year, continuing a trend as a higher percentage of searches occur on smartphones, where Google’s clicks are less valuable.

The smaller screens and limited bandwidth of smartphones make them a less-appealing tool than desktop computers for consumers looking to buy products or services online. Marketers that work with digital ad firm Rimm Kaufman Group paid about 60% less for smartphone clicks than desktop clicks in the first quarter in order to generate an equivalent payback.

Update: WSJ article extended here http://on.wsj.com/1qPjiog and in the print edition (4-17-2014)

news 04/15/2014

RKG released its quarterly Digital Marketing Report on April 15, 2014 and was covered in Search Engine Land:
“RKG is out with its first quarter Digital Marketing Report today, showing US paid search spend increased 17 percent year-over-year…”
“Among RKG’s client set, Bing Product Ads and Google Product Listing Ads continue to drive most of the growth in paid search…”
“RKG reports that smartphone RPC, is making progress, however, rising from 23 percent of desktop in Q1 of last year to 34 percent in Q1 2014…”

To read the full article, click here.

news 04/15/2014

April 15, 2014, Charlottesville, VARKG, a leading full-service digital marketing agency, released its Digital Marketing Report today, covering the first quarter of 2014. By analyzing data across its client base, which includes over 40 of the IR Top 500 Retailers, RKG’s report provides insight into trends for search, SEO, product listing ads, display advertising, social media, comparison shopping engines, and more.

The first quarter of 2014 saw continued growth across channels, as total paid search spend increased 17% from last year and organic search share stayed relatively constant. Mobile devices played a notable role in growth trends, while Product Listing Ads (PLAs) continue to drive paid search growth.

Mobiles Devices Now Account for One-Third of Search Traffic

While desktop visits for organic search are declining, mobile clicks in Q1 grew by 29% over this time last year. Mobile accounts for 33% of organic traffic on Google and 36% on Yahoo. And while mobile clicks contributed to just 16% of Bing organic traffic, this figure doubled from Q1 of 2013.

Paid search data shows similar trends. Smartphones and tablets each account for 18% of paid clicks, together contributing over a third of all search traffic. Comparing this quarter’s data to Q1 of last year, we see that smartphone clicks increased by 64%, while tablet clicks increased by 56%. Meanwhile, desktop traffic declined by 3% compared to this time last year.

Product Ads Now 50% of Non-Brand Google Search; Growing on Bing

Image-based product ads, including Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Bing’s Product Ads, are greatly outpacing text ad growth in terms of both traffic and ad spend. While text ad spending rose by just 6% year-over-year on a 4% increase in clicks, product ads saw a 69% increase in ad spend and a 51% increase in click traffic from Q1 of 2013.

PLAs on Google recorded a 14% stronger ROI than text ads in Q1. While CPCs averaged 8% higher than text ads, conversion rates were 50% higher for the RKG client base, making PLAs attractive to both Google and advertisers. As a result, Google gave PLAs greater prominence in search rankings this quarter, resulting in further traffic gains. PLAs now account for 29% of all paid clicks on Google, and 50% of non-brand clicks.

Image-based product ads also made strides on Bing, whose product ad format came out of beta at the beginning of the quarter. Bing product ads accounted for 12% of non-brand revenue in Q1, compared to just 8% in Q4 of 2013. Even more promising, revenue per click (RPC) for Bing product ads is now 79% higher than comparable text ads, while in Q4 beta participants saw a RPC that was 22% lower than non-brand text ad levels. More »