The 6th session of Search Engine Strategies San Francisco 2011 Day 3 was on the topic “Search: Where to Next?”. This was an interactive session among eminent panelists, moderator and the delegates. The agenda of this session was to discuss about next generation of digital marketing and predict what search might look like in the following five to ten years. The session aimed to resolve questions like, What should be on your search radar for 2012 and beyond? Does the key to the future of search lie in personalization? Do social networks herald the end of search? Certain industry pundits have even been heard to say that SEO is dead. The future is coming. Are you ready for it?
- Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, International Search Strategist, Beyond Ink USA
- Tamara Colagrossi, Head of Marketing, Marchex
- Eli Goodman, Search Evangelist, comScore, Inc.
- Mike Grehan, Chair SES Advisory Board, Global VP Content, SES/Search Engine Watch/ClickZ
- Rand Schulman, Chief Marketing Officer, Eightfold Logic
- Dana Todd, Vice President of Performance Innovation, Performics
Anne F. Kennedy, moderator of the session begins the session by asking the eminent speakers to express their views on Mobile Application Economy. In reply to the question raised, the panelists one by one shares their views with the audience:
Tamara Colagrossi was the first to come up with her answer. She says that mobile devices are used by consumers for searching purpose and they have an urgent need to fill and are at the end of the purchase cycle. Further, explaining she says that over the time, we’ll see PC search as research, and mobile will connect a customer with a business at the time of need. There’s a common challenge in monetizing apps.
Eli Goodman comes up next and says that there are various types of mobile devices and the experience of searching is quite different than the mobile phone.
Mirrors laptop or computer is today searched by tablet device and very soon you’ll see targeting of ads based on device. There are 14 million tablet users in the U.S and every device is not created equally. He concludes by saying that “Query length on phones are shorter than on tablets and PCs”.
As soon as Eli shares his views on mobile Mike Grehan, comes in and says that “there’s a ceiling on the Web’s usefulness. The app economy is about sidestepping the Web”. To this, Dana Todd adds and gives the example of Qualcom. Qualcom wanted to get carriers to open up. They argued that apps were a workaround for what wasn’t available on the Web.
Rand Schulman, explains that there will be no one, unless there’s enough relevant content on the Web.
He further put forth his ideas through the following points:
Creativity without conversion = ? (waste, art, branding – called out answers) He says it = 0.
We need people creating content for mobile, web, etc, to have tools to create relevant content while they’re creating it
English majors can’t count and counters can’t spell. All content on the web should be created for biz purposes.
Elli speaks up again and says that, “We all took a course about formatted, structured writing. Teaching structure that is esoterically functioning for sharing or finding”.
Mike Grehan, take over the stage and says, he’s managed content developers and always asks what is content? Compelling content? Or for a robot?
Now, Rand replies and says that “ Writers today don’t know about targeting, segmentation? If you want to be an artist, put it in your diary under your bed. On the Web, it’s relevant content to be found and shared for business”.
Anne, the moderator of the session next asks, Is there a merging of content and the app economy?
Mike replies and states that the app doesn’t need the web to work. For him, the web is a sea of crap and the notion that Google’s able to make sense of it is archaic. Maybe Google should think of this. Search for a Yankees score. Search about a player. Why does he have to keep asking as a squiggly thing chases it down?
Dana Todd, one of the eminent panelists now speaks up and says that he does not finf any excitement in mobile whereas, there is excitement on the Web with social media and Web 2.0.
Tamara interacts with Rand and says he’s not thinking of marketers who are writing with a conversion in mind . Rand then asks a question, Who’s responsible for creating that content engineer? And says that it is an innovation problem and in the next year or 2 he expects curriculum around creating content thats consumable by apps and media. Dana then speaks up and says that he believes that the content engineer is a better title than SEO, but it doesn’t go far enough.
He further, emphasizes on the following points.
- We try to understand intent.
- We’ve enabled experiences, not just content, and
- We need to take into account the exchange and exploration.
Dana then asks a question, What’s your emotional conversion?
The speakers and moderator Anne, answers the above question and express their views among each other. The detail is enlisted below:
- Rand: How do I optimize an emotional conversion?
- Dana: There’s a whole science around it.
- Anne: What’s the implication for us trying to make a living as a promoter?
- Tamara: The device will change the search experience. When your product requires in-depth research, a call is often part of the process. We need to think of how search translates to environment to environment.
- Dana: People are using phones in their downtime more. Using them when they’re bored or want to look like they’re not doing nothing. Tech changes are enabling a reverse. PCs used to be about surfing. Then it became very task oriented. Mobile started as task oriented and now it’s moving into the fun zone.
Once the above raised question is resolved, Anne comes up with another question and asks, Is mobile a direct repose medium?
This session is more of a discussion among the five well known speakers, audience and moderator. The question on if mobile is a direct repose medium is answered by Tamara first. She says, 62% of people who search on a phone call a biz. A biz wants a phone call to their biz as the number one outcome they want. To this Rand totally disagree and then Tamara tries to explain her point by giving the example of the pendulum. She says that the pendulum has swung and we used to try to keep all transactions online and saw loyalty drop. There are a lot of bizs that need phone contact to up sell and for this human connection is very important for getting customers trust and repeat.
Below mentioned are some of the discussions that took place in this session among the panelists and the audience as well:
- Dana: Data in suppot: Call centers are up for the first time in a decade.
- Rand: There are some verticals where it doesn’t make sense to optimize for calls.
- Eli: There will be better analytics related to the type of biz and what online marketing investment is right. It’ll take time.
While the discussion was going on, Dana says to change the topic and asks, Why isn’t anyone doing barcode search? It’s been bugging me? Scan a barcode with your smartphone. It may take you to a price comparison. It might take you to Google Product. It may or may not be optimized. Why aren’t retailers talking to barcode manufacturers to have barcodes optimized. Reviews, price comparisons, there should be a more robust experience. It may be better to do this with QR codes since retailers would have more control.
To this, a member from the audience said that, RFID will be smarter since you don’t actually have to scan, which is a step that a consumer might find a hassle. Dana then says that, Social operating system is being enabled by social and mobile. In this discussion, Rand comes up and shares his views. He asks, Who’s responsible for making sure the right content is there and coverting? Best Buy has an analytics group that services marketing and merchandising. We need to start teaching about environmental factors of conversion on the Web.
An audience further says that, It won’t fold into one course for an ultimate facilitator. It’s about collaboration. The discussion continued thereafter with Dana, Eli, Rand and Mike.
Dana: If you focus on creating a good participation level of your potential consumer, it’s better than keeping different roles in silos. It will cause the collaboration conversation totally different.
Eli: Branding will drive enormous growth. Social media is earned marketing, it’s not owned. Search results include Facebook and Twitter profiles so enhance social media outlets which influences your own pages.
Rand: Create a video but make sure there’s a transcript that’s searchable.
Dana: Video ideas are baked into her client services but there’s still a hurdle for businesses accepting they should create video.
Eli: How to is a big search phrase for video?. As soon as blended results come up, more often than not a searcher stops typing. People have an emotional connection to things they see and hear. As brands move online, there’s enough analytic that we can see what the emotional connection is made. You can quantify these things.
Mike concluded the discussion by saying that, In 2005 Google knew they’d never be able to crawl all the Web. UGC beats mediated content by factor of 5:1 in crawl rate. Encourage that kind of content online as an SEO strategy.
The session was becoming very interesting as there was a direct interaction with the audience. It was not a mere session but a open ended discussion where everyone was allowed to express their views and share their experience.
Another member from the audience requested the panelists to speak about the findabiity of non-text content. Mike was the first to comment on this. He said, We talk of signals to search engines. Text then links with signals but Google’s told him first hand is end user data. Want a video to rank? Get more people to watch it. It’s a cycle. Google is looking at query chains, and if there’s a pattern they’ve seen over and over again they’ll be able to know what you’re looking for even if you don’t know how to ask yet. For example, someone searches “special collection” then “special edition” then realizes they want “limited edition.” If a search engine sees that enough times it learns to deliver “limited edition” results for “special collection.”
Eli then asks, Do the letters SEO go away?He is replied by a member from the audience who said that, “ we need to remarker ourselves”. Anne adds to it by saying that, it’s all marketing.
The last part of the session was a discussion among all the five eminent speakers.
Eli: Regarding the change in paradigm, the direction is a battle between tech companies ad consumers. The personalized experience of using the connected world with you is going to drive the changes. It’s a personalization revolution.
Tamara: Consumers will drive the future of technology. Whatever, the new tomorrow will have to be monetized, either by subscription or allow for advertising.
Dana: There’s a high saturation of people playing social games. There are more creative things we can do. We can tie experiences to this.
Rand: The future is creating greater relevance for everyone, whether if used for working or playing, either way it creates options.
Mike: Privacy issues, being able to share more info with info protected to create a richer experience, maintaining privacy and protection necessary while getting the info we need as marketers to provide a rich experience.
The 6th session of SES SF Day 3 ends here with more Q and A.