Spotlight on Search Engine Land Award Winners MediaHub & UPMC Health Plan

Last year, more than twenty agencies and SEO professionals were recognized for their excellence in SEO and search marketing at the 2017 Search Engine Land Awards. To give insight into the winning campaigns and the award submission process, we have been conducting interviews featuring last year’s award winners.

In today’s edition of the Search Engine Land Award Winners spotlight series, MediaHub’s associate director of search shares more about the Royal Caribbean search campaign that earned the agency its “Best Enterprise SEM Initiative for Travel & Lifestyle” award. UPMC Health Plan’s Zach Cole is also featured. His team was named the “Best In-house Team of the Year for SEM” at last year’s awards event.

The 2018 Search Engine Land Awards will be hosted on June 12 in Seattle, Washington as part of the SMX Advance Conference after hours events.

First launched in 2015, this will be the fourth consecutive year for the Search Engine Land Awards. And while the event is just over three months from now, the deadline for submitting an entry is nearing. The early-entry deadline for this year’s Search Engine Land Awards is March 31, with applications accepted through April 13, 2018. There’s still plenty of time — and this year’s event includes seven new award categories.

If you’re considering whether or not to submit an entry, be sure to check out what winning has meant to agencies like iCrossing, Precis Digital and SapientRazorfish in our previous interviews with last year’s winners.

MediaHub’s win for the “Best Enterprise SEM Initiative for Travel and Lifestyle” was the first time the agency’s Boston office had submitted a search award entry.

“In addition to truly believing the campaign we put together for Royal Caribbean was a great success, we also wanted to showcase our search skills as an agency on a larger stage,” says Casey Barth, the associate director of search for MediaHub.

To decide which campaign to submit, Barth says the team created an in-depth process to make sure they were not only demonstrating their best work, but giving as many data points and supporting information as they could.

“It started with generating ideas for submissions across all offices, voting on what we felt was the most award-worthy, and then putting a dedicated team member in-place to aggregate data and craft the submission,” says Barth.

The associate director of search says the win was huge for her team, and has echoed the importance they put on Search within a marketing campaign.

When asked what she believes was the key ingredient of the campaign that helped the agency take home the trophy, Barth says she thinks it was the mix of smart optimizations, and “cutting-edge” testing that helped drive performance.

“In addition to submitting one of our top performing campaigns, we also considered all of the strategies implemented from leveraging remarketing audiences and expanding into new markets to establishing a cross-device strategy.”

According to Barth, the Royal Caribbean campaign did an excellent job of showcasing the agency’s strategy, and demonstrated MediaHub’s goal to help clients earn the largest share of attention in a competitive search landscape.

“It was validation to the hard work we put into driving client success, dedication to staying on top of the latest industry trend, and our search practice as a whole,” says Barth of her team’s win.

UPMC Health Plan’s Zach Cole and Chris Daley were part of the team named the “Best In-house Team of the Year for SEM” at last year’s Search Engine Land Awards event.

“We’re huge fans of Search Engine Land and the creative thinking and next-level knowledge that they feature,” says Cole, “When they Landy Awards launched an In-house Team of the Year category, we, of course, wanted to put our work to the test of the industry experts.”

Cole notes how nice it is to have search-specific award opportunities where his team can demonstrate its innovative and effective search campaign strategies to other professionals in the industry.

“Good work tends to speak for itself, but it’s always nice to discuss the process and share out more of the behind-the-scenes work that only search professionals would understand,” says Cole, “Plus Chris and I have a really great relationship (perhaps having a small team is an advantage in some ways) so it’s always fun to talk about that dynamic as well.”

When considering how to put together their award entry, Cole says, for his team, it’s always about telling a story.

“We start with the foundation of search performance — results, results, results — and shape the narrative from there.”

According to Cole, it took a few days to put the submission materials together.

“The general approach is to take a hard look at all the search work we’ve done for the year, outline the narrative, prepare all the documents to share out, and then, of course, take our annual glamour shot. We also share it out with a few other stakeholders in the company, put on the finishing touches, and finally submit.”

Cole says the team’s winning entry went well beyond simply featuring search insights and results by including details that demonstrated how the team’s search strategy showed empathy for the intended audience and ability to collaborate with other teams.

“We also talked about exploratory methods to uncover learnings from other key groups, and intense research of the problems B2B decision makers are turning to search to solve,” says Cole, “That, combined with relentless monitoring and optimization that you’d expect from dedicated search pros, led to a great campaign and result.”

Cole believes their holistic approach to search really helped drive the team’s success, and says that the award was met with an overwhelming positive response around his department and the UPMC organization as a whole. He also shared that being recognized as a Search Engine Land Award winner has helped elevate the paid search channel within the department, creating more of an appetite around paid search and the drive to push more boundaries with new campaigns.

“As a small in-house team, we truly valued the recognition and reinforcement of our approach to the competitive search space — especially on a global scale!”

If you want to join the esteemed list of Search Engine Land Award winners, please submit your entry before the early entry deadline of March 31, 2018. Submissions will be accepted through the final deadline of April 13. The Search Engine Land Awards team has added several new categories this year, including Best Search & Social Media Marketing Initiative, Best Research Initiative by an Agency or Individual and Best Boutique Agency for SEO and SEM.

You can learn more about the upcoming awards event and how to submit your entry at 2018 Search Engine Land Awards.

Stay tuned to this column, as the next Search Engine Land Award winners featured will be “In-House Team of the Year for SEO,” “Best Retailer Search Marketing Initiative for SEM,” and “Best B2C SEM Initiative for Enterprise.”

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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