The first session of the Day 1 was “Search: Where to next?” The agenda of this session was about search engine marketing as a discipline, its transformation in recent years and where it is heading to?
Graham Mudd, Vice President, Search & Media, comScore, Inc.
Brian Kaminski, Chief Operating Officer, iProspect
Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO, Acquisio
Shashi Seth, Senior Vice President, Search Products, Yahoo!
The session got going with Marc Poirer taking about search engine marketing as a discipline, How it has changed and what is its future. He started with percentages and budgets for online marketing. According to Forrester, the advertising expenditure will double and reach somewhere near $54 billion in the next few years. Money spend on traditional marketing now will be directed towards online marketing. Another anticipation is that classification and the ability to track is going to change. Also, it will be easier to see how money is being spent and will make sense of the interaction of all sources that result in conversions. In the coming future, all will stop looking at the “last click” and would focus on the bigger picture and how varied events cause a result.
Marc also stressed that access to purchase display that is similar to an ad exchange or hub, will be readily acquirable. Real-time display bidding will be a big influence. He warned that unfamiliarity with what is available for display can be a loss. Sighting an example, he said alike keyword bidding display can be purchased with control over display times, impressions, etc. Marc's views are that there will be no search marketers rather performance marketers in the near future. The performance marketing will include social, video as well marketing across all channels from online to mobile, etc. This would mean that the marketers would need different skill sets and this would require companies to hire mathematicians and analysts – who expertise in understanding data and make sense out of it.
Another prediction is that agencies will get bigger and better opportunity over specialised and/or smaller companies. This is because of the fact that they could manage accounts cross-channels and focus on the bigger picture. For smaller or specialised companies, it might not be possible, who look at just aspect of the entire scenario.
Brian Kaminski was the next speaker who started talking about Sony Walkman, which had dominated the market immediately after its launch. He stated the fact that Sony has lost the market share because it failed to evolve while Apple came out with iPads, iPhones, iPods and redefined technology.
Brian too predicted that in the next five years, the use of search engines will come down. Their fate will same as it was with computers. Today, a typical user does a search, visits a site and goes back to the search engine again. However, according to Brian there would be change with people will move from Point A to Point B rather than going back to the search engine repeatedly.
Brian gave 5 clues on how the future of search would be:
- User would take advantage of information and how everything is connected. The ones who will succeed in doing so will stand out. Data is an advantage today but in the future it will be a requirement. It is important to consider that how collective impact campaigns, content, video, etc. will impact the users. The need for testing and improvement is quite critical and the time has come to embrace change, invest heavily in technology which would be able to handle data, start investing in people with heavy data skills.
- In the future, search will be based on real-time results believes Brian. Blogging and twitter will be easily searched. Social networks will be influencing results. Real time content is going to make search results much more customised.
- New technologies and user behaviour – Non-PC searches will dominate search and mobile searches are going to outpace PC searches. He also believes that there will be more local-based targeting and that could turn out to be even more important.
- Media will be planned to drive search – All media campaigns will be created in such manner so that users are made to search. The centre of marketing agenda will be search.
- Search is influenced by keywords today but Keywords dominate search today but it will not be all about keywords. Camera searches, voice search and social network will influence search.
So what it has in it for the marketers? Brian said that things are going to change drastically and possibly dramatically in the future. The change is near and it is time to prepare budget for testing and innovation.
Shashi Seth was the last speaker. He spoke about what is the future search as an industry and in particular what is Yahoo! Future. He started with a volley of questions:
- How many of you find yourself overwhelmed by search results?
- How many use social networks as proxy for information?
- How many spend time on mobile devices?
He reiterated the fact that users have changed profoundly over the years. Their needs have gone more complex and it shows with different queries searched on search engines. Also, they seem to be running out of time. Users now spend more time on varied content starting from videos, pictures, mobile devices and yet search engines have not totally on it. Shashi stated that the last 12 years was about back end of search (crawling, indexing, etc.) and the industry has yet to focus on front end. There are new ways, new sources to get information and get fast answers. According to him now need is about “getting info pushed to you, not pulled for you.”
What is Yahoo! upto?
After the merger with Bing, Yahoo! will be now focussing more on the front end of search while Bing will be responsible for back end of search.
Recent innovations at Yahoo!:
- Deep Web – Now on Yahoo! People can ask complex questions and get an answer. Example: “paella san francisco”, it gives some good results for restaurants in the area just as a search for “mexican food san francisco” would.
- Yahoo! now will give “related people” on a search results page, i.e, a search for “Brad Pitt” may list people like Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise and Jennifer Aniston.
- He gave another example where a question like the last 10 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize will show instant results. This option is not necessarily available today.
- Real time – The searches will get real-time and sighted the example of the just concluded World Cup.
- Vertical search on Yahoo! News – This will bring all sources for news, time, sources, related concepts, etc., together. There will be more interactivity with a home page for video search may show the latest trending videos. There will be integration of search across Yahoo! so to create the “infinite browse” through things like “related searches.” More Commercial keywords and more sponsors would come into picture to maximise revenue. “Trending now” area on the home page is another item that Yahoo! observed generates 5 percent of searches nowadays.
Shashi also said that structured data is going to be very critical in the future during the panel Q&A session:
- Yahoo! is working on a web of things that help in connecting data in different ways.
- People now particular information and when they deliver that, people are satisfied.
- It is important to get the information collated so to make sense of the interaction model.