What’s Next In Search?

Wed 7 October 2009 10:00, Jaap Jacobs

At the SMX east in New York there was a discussion with a panel of search marketing specialists about the future of search. In this article you will find a brief summary about the discussion. A contribution of my colleague Maarten van der Wielen.

What’s Next In Search?

Changed advertising behavior
Today, advertisers take longer decision times about where and how to spend their marketing budget. There is less interest in testing new opportunities with no good insight about the performance of those possibilities. Company's tend to think better about their marketing strategies. What will I do with my money? Shall I spend it on SEO or on Advertising? Companies want to spend their advertising money in places where they can measure the outcome and that is one of the reasons that there is a migration from traditional media to digital media. Traditional media will stay in the future, but the panel thinks traditional media and digital media will complement each other more compared to this moment. It will lead to exponential revenues.

The panel suspects more traditional media ads to make a prospect do a search online. More traditional media ads with the message follow us on Twitter, communicating the web address and Facebook company profiles will pop up.

Social Media
The panel further more discussed the role of Social Media and if Social Media would be a part of our future. The members of the panel argued about the strong connection between search and Social Media. For companies Social Media is of interest because the companies can easily look up what others say about their brand and products. Gathering that information is of good use in making strategic choices. Besides that, Social Media can give companies the possibility to respond fast at unwanted situations.

For small and medium companies this will be more difficult because there perhaps is no known reputation on the internet for those companies or there might be no time to interact as good as their large competitors. There might even be a shakeout of some companies in the future because the companies who will interact with this new technology have an advantage to others who don't. Social Media gives you a good chance to narrow your marketing campaign at specific groups. Furthermore the panel says it’s always good to keep in mind that Social Media is not build because of advertising and marketing. An example of Twitter used by a small bar was reviewed in the discussion. The bar communicated: Follow us at Twitter. The bar offered their followers happy hour discounts. This is a good example for businesses to use Twitter as a micro direct marketing channel.

Targeting is something that people want and therefore you pay with loss of some privacy was the outcome. People want more relevancy in ads en search results. The information gathered by search is incredibly valuable. Not only for online marketing, but also for traditional marketing possibilities. Personalisation feels for people less creepy when people get the exact answers to their questions. The panel thinks transparancy is very important and also the choice to give people the posibility to turn of personalized results. Younger people have less problems with sharing information about themselfes as older people do. The more information you share the better the results in ads and search will be. When an ad is tailor made the receiver usually tend to see it as usefull, but when ads are not tailored people might get irritated about them.

Google does anything to give users personal results. They try to track you on different ways. Ip adress tracking is only one of them. When you are logged in to their system is another one. But if you are logged it can give you poor results. Google decides what is of interest for you when displaying results. They make assumptions based on your behavior. Google changes the results depending on click behavior. But do they make the right assumptions that way? Personalization is not spying and making assumptions. Personalization is giving information based on true data, based on self provided is the best way to do that, concludes the panel.

The panel discussed the new search engine Bing. More players in the field is better they agree! The child of the Microsoft technology and the Yahoo sales force is welcomed by the panel. The upcoming of a new player is a healthy transition but will also be a slow transition. You can make the best product, but consumers also have to adopt it. Right now Bing isn't the best product. New players need to have a chance they agree so the panel asks you to not stay stucked on Google just because you are used to but sometimes also give Bing a try.

The Cristal Ball
Where will we be in five years? Not an easy question, but the panel gives us their toughts. Search will still grow.  Networks will help you better to make decisions and trust is the key for succes to rank higher in search engines. The number of mobile apps will further increase and they will get more and better functions. Privacy still will be an issue within five years. Advertising will change regarding the environment and options what will change and appear. The panel sees a big role for voice recognition and voice activated devices in future.

In five years you still want better answers to your questions and you want them in less than a second....

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