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Self-serve ad solutions aren’t a major part of the ad universe today. A recent BIA/Kelsey survey found few companies selling more than 10 percent of their SMB advertising via online. But self-serve meets the needs of certain online-oriented categories. And for economic reasons, of course — they are far cheaper to execute than premise sales — they remain the Holy Grail for pushing SMB sales.

Marchex, a sales facilitator for local advertising, has read the writing on the wall and today, announced a suite of self-serve products. “Historically, we’ve worked with directory companies, cable and newspapers looking to add search to a suite of products. Most sell via feet on the street,” notes Brooks McMahon, VP for Marchex Connect. But SMBs are now interacting with lots of different kinds of companies. Seventy-five percent of conversations involve some sort of self-serve component, he says. “We are making sure we have products that support different constituents.”

Among categories that McMahon believes will initially use its self-serve solutions are SMB creative services, domain registrars and office supply firms. “Online business services like Staples, OfficeMax and Costco are doing a lot more online,” he says.

One reseller relationship that is especially bullish on self-serve is Dun & Bradstreet. “D&B is actively reselling search marketing to their customers through an online self-serve portal that we have white labeled for them and provide full support for,” says McMahon. The portal works for both online and telesales.

McMahon also expects some of its directory partners, which include AT&T and YPG of Canada, to augment their premise sales with self-serve. “There is room for both in the companies that we serve,” he says. “The cost structures are different than with feet on the street.”

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