British Gas hunts agency

Energy company poised to announce shortlist for its search marketing business.

British Gas is in discussions with agencies about its search marketing business as it looks to improve its search performance.

Search is currently handled in-house at British Gas, but it has approached several agencies ahead of announcing a shortlist in the next fortnight.

Agencies approached include traditional media agencies, search specialists and digital agencies.

One source suggested that there is no guarantee British Gas will move the business into an agency, but that this is the most likely outcome of the pitch process. Another option on the table is to move the search marketing into Carat, which handles British Gas' £27 million media planning and buying account.

The search review follows British Gas' recent decision to move its £35 million direct marketing business and online creative into OgilvyOne. Last year, reports suggested that British Gas was set to review its media relationship with Carat. However, no pitch took place.

British Gas' current search activity promotes its claim of "cheapest duel fuel prices" and "online discounts of up to £187".

The energy company is on a concerted drive to sign up new customers after price increases in 2006 led to a fall in its customer numbers. However, the British Gas owner, Centrica, recently announced that it had added 900,000 customers since introducing price cuts in April. British Gas did not return calls.