TSA: Congratulations on your new role as The Search Agency’s CEO in Asia Pacific. What are your goals for the new position and in opening a new office in Sydney?
Matt: Thank you, this is definitely an exciting development both for me and for the company. We can now boast a physical presence in North America, Europe, India and Asia, an impressive footprint for a private company in our space.
This footprint can be leveraged by pursuing growth in each region separately, but it also starts to make us a viable solution for multi-national advertisers looking to consolidate their Search Marketing with a single agency and a single platform.
It is hoped that the Sydney office will not only be a presence for business in Australia, but a hub for conducting business across the Asia-Pacific region. Our initial focus is on a select few “Reseller” partnerships in Australia and a few other markets. This will allow us to get to meaningful scale quickly, and then we can begin to diversify revenues by pursuing the “Agency” business directly.
TSA: How would you describe the current digital marketing landscape in Asia?
Matt: Very different from the US! China and Japan are the number 2 and 3 markets for search volume, yet their dominant engines, languages and user behaviors have made them very challenging markets for Western media and agency businesses, including Google.
As a result, while these markets have their own developed agency and media businesses, they are under-serviced by the tools and solutions we are so familiar with in the US. This is a great opportunity, but there are very real barriers to be overcome. Being in the region is a good first step!
TSA: You lived in the US for six years. What have you learned from your experiences in the US and how will you apply those experiences to the Asia Pacific market?
Matt: While there is a lot of innovation outside the US, the US is still the largest and most developed market in this space. Everyone is interested in “what are the best practices from the US”? So I will be bringing back a lot of the relationships and learnings I have from working with the biggest brands, best search marketers, and most advanced tools.
But there are a lot of luxuries the US has as a result of its scale which are not available in smaller markets. For example Australia only has about 7% of the population of the US, so advertiser spends are proportionally smaller. This means agencies are lighter on staffing by necessity, the largest Australian agencies having teams of only 20-30 people. This creates a need for a lot more innovation in efficient service and automation. Bringing the best of the US back home and then adapting it to the local market is a challenge I am looking forward to!
TSA: How has it been moving back to Australia after all that time? What will you miss from the States?
Matt: I miss ecommerce! As folks in our LA office would know, I am a keen supporter of Amazon and UPS. For a bunch of reasons, ecommerce is not very well established in Australia. So I will still be bringing an empty suitcase with me on my US trips for some time to come!