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SEMPO Hires Association Management Firm Virtual, Inc.

Palo Alto, CA, December 14, 2004 - The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), a non-profit association that promotes awareness of the benefits of the search engine marketing industry, announced today that it has retained Virtual, Inc. to manage its operations. Based in Massachusetts, Virtual is an association management company - one of the elite firms that has achieved accreditation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

Virtual will handle all SEMPO administrative, financial, membership, board elections, and event management activities, expanding its responsibilities as SEMPO grows.

"As SEMPO has grown and our programs have gained momentum, we have realized the value of adding the resources of an association management firm to our organization," said Barbara Coll, SEMPO President and founder and CEO of Inc. "Our volunteers can now focus their expertise on SEMPO's mission and goals without needing to worry about the details of day-to-day operations."

"Virtual's track record of running other market advocacy groups like SEMPO, gives us the confidence that SEMPO is in good hands. The relationship with Virtual will help us take our organization to the next level," added Coll.

"We are grateful for the confidence the SEMPO Board has shown in the Virtual team and excited to build upon SEMPO's foundation of early momentum," said Virtual President, Bruce Rogers. "Analysts project that spending on search engine marketing will outpace spending on all other forms of advertising, online and offline, over the next five years. Even so, search engine marketing is a relatively new marketing discipline, and SEMPO will help drive its maturity and worldwide adoption."

About Virtual, Inc.
Virtual provides the staff, expertise and infrastructure to build and manage industry associations and virtual communities. Over the past five years, Virtual has won dozens of national and regional awards for management, marketing and association management programs and services. For more information on Virtual, Inc., visit

About the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)
SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it. Its purpose is to provide a foundation for industry growth through building stronger relationships, fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research and creating a better understanding of search and its role in marketing.

Representing thousands in 40 countries, SEMPO has more than 800 members. It represents the common interests of companies and consultants worldwide and provides them with a voice in the marketplace. SEMPO's education and outreach initiatives are funded in part by Yahoo!, Google, SMX, Search Engine Strategies, DoubleClick, Baidu, and MediaPost.


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