By Scott Dance
The Baltimore Sun.
Every time you search Google for a business or product and click on a result, the marketers are watching.
Companies bid for spots at the top of the page when consumers search for general terms or even competitors’ names. And they closely track where those shoppers end up, analyzing the ways differences in a few words of ad copy or slight adjustments to website layout drive sales.
For Jellyfish, a United Kingdom-based company that has quietly built up a $100 million U.S. headquarters in Baltimore, it is a booming business opportunity. While search engine optimization and marketing isn’t an altogether new business, it is an evolving one that is expected to dominate digital advertising spending for the foreseeable future, as more midsized businesses tackle it as a way to proactively connect with customers.
“Companies are getting smarter,” said Jay Robertson, vice president of marketing for home alarm system company Protection 1, a Jellyfish client. “There is so much more technological capability today than what we had five years ago as it relates to paid search. It is ever shifting.”
Jellyfish’s U.S. operations started 5 1/2 years ago with Kevin Buerger, who is now executive vice president of U.S. sales and client services. He came from an advertising background and was working at a startup that sold services to Jellyfish when, he said, he “approached them and said, ‘You now have a U.S. salesperson.'”
The company chose Baltimore as a launching pad because work with a large education client here made up a fifth of its business. And within a month of joining Jellyfish, Buerger started to expand that roster, landing work with U.S. video game retailer GameStop, he said.
The company has since added 60 employees in about 16,000 square feet of spare, modern office space here. And its list of clients has grown to include Fitbit, Carfax, Nestle, Pfizer, Yankee Candle, Walden University and Skype.