Keynote Roundtable: Search Marketing In Age Of Google And Bing

October 4, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

We’re one session away from the beer. Er, I mean the end of Day 1. Coming up next is a keynote panel on the topic of search marketing in the age of Google and Bing.  Then there’s beer! But up first we have Brad Geddes, Patricia Hursh, Maile Ohye, Kevin Ryan, Rathna Sharad, Rich Skrenta, and Stephan Spencer.  Let’s do this. And then go get beer.

My life role model Vanessa Fox is seated next to me and would like me to share that this panel totally stole the title of her book.  If you haven’t bought Vanessa’s book on Marketing in the Age of Google, you should.  And that’s not even an affiliate link. Pinky swear.

Chris Sherman is moderating this one and asks a series of questions:

Is search healthy? Is it growing? What are you finding interesting?

Rich: He started his company three years ago to build a search engine.  They think we need more choices since there are only two – Google, Yahoo/Bing.  He talks more about his company and doesn’t really answer the question. Meh.

Maile: It is great to have more search engines out there because competition is healthy. A lot of what they do is to foster a stronger Web community. They try to make their features public so that every search engine can use them.  Google does think it’s healthier all around to have more options for users.  You shouldn’t restrict search to just traditional engines. There are also applications, tables, phones, TVs, etc, to consider.

Rathna: Agrees with Maile that apps are where it’s at. She thinks its great to have the alliance to build the query-share out which helps them build relevance. They’ve been hearing all along that people want volume, now they have an answer for that.

Patricia: She’s really excited about Yahoo/Bing. She thinks its good that there will be an option that accounts for 25-30 percent market share. She’s excited to have a player that can really compete against Google. From an agency perspective, choice is good.   She wants to see more players in the market.  There are four main advantages to the alliance:

  1. Market share
  2. Operating efficiencies
  3. Combined, they’re a true competitor for Google
  4. Better service

The biggest disadvantage is that two audiences are now becoming one. If you saw big differences between your Yahoo and Bing campaigns, now you have to blend them.

Brad:  He wonders if we’re making it so that no one will ever be able to merge again.

Stephan: He was at ThinkTank and they were talking about how its really exciting to be a blackhat right now with Bing/ Yahoo.  He puts a disclaimer out that he doesn’t do blackhat. Right. No one does. He says it again.

Kevin: He likes that there’s a lot of choices. You can advertise on Google. You can advertise on YouTube. Hee.  He thinks choice is important but he doesn’t think we’re there yet, we just have a really good looking beast.

What about Google Instant? Any impressions on SEO or even the ad side?

Brad: No one is seeing anything change.

Stephan: He’s heard some anecdotal evidence that people are getting more traffic because they’re doing well with Google Suggest suggestions. As an SEO, he finds Instant annoying. He turned it off.  He likes the experience in terms of getting in the head of a newbie.

Kevin: That 0.25 seconds has changed his life. Kevin is our closet smart ass. There’s no foundational change. We’re so close in the business, we forget how people react in the real world.

Maile: It’s not a ranking change at all. It reduces the average query 2-5 seconds, which she thinks is great for users.  As a search engine, regardless of the market place, at Google they have a focus that they need to maintain a healthy ecosystem that will consist of users and advertisers. She thinks Google Instant is great for the user. It’s cutting down their query time and helping them find information faster, bringing them to your site faster. The average query length is now 10 percent longer. She thinks Instant will help and it will be good all around.  It’s that eco-system effect.

Rich: His son loves Google Instant. He thinks all advanced users are searching from the toolbar so they don’t have to turn it off.  I think Rich is just bitter because he has a new baby search engine and Google is bigger than him.

Rathna: She’s tried using Google Instant and, to her, having it prompted is not necessarily the right experience. She thinks having suggestions that lead you to that may be a better way of doing it.

Stephan: He’s gotten a lot more value out of the Google mobile voice feature than he did with Google Instant.

He’s seen a lot of regulatory action around search, specifically around privacy. Where do you see things heading in that direction?

Stephan: He’s just resigned himself to getting the Google implant whenever it comes out.

Kevin: He spends a lot of time talking to the folks who are lobbying and he’s hearing a lot of rumors about search being a public utility, one company controls the market in Western Europe and most of the rest of the world. Some people think that’s a problem. He thinks we’re going to see a break up coming and it’s going to be a train wreck.

Stephan: He says Google is a public toilet – you don’t think about it until you can’t find it. I…er…what?

Maile:  Google isn’t controlling access to information, they’re trying to make it accessible. They want to make sense of this vast amount of data and that’s where they’re trying to help. Within the company it’s well known that whatever they do with user data has to be made clear to users. She can’t speak to what will happen in the future, but they’re trying to make the results most relevant and be as transparent as possible.

Rich: He thinks it’s interesting that with search people bring an assumption of privacy. An assumption that’s not there if you’re using Twitter or Facebook.  Searchers want their data to be private. We have to ask what’s in the best interest of the users.

Brad: There’s going to be some regulation. Something is going to happen. He wants people to turn off cookies for a day and try to use the Web.  The Web will not work. There is a trade off just to make things work well. 6 years ago cookies were evil and were going to destroy the Web and it went away. Hopefully the laws won’t go too far because some of it is necessary just to make the Web function.

For years we’ve been talking about the imminent arrival of mobile. Is it here yet?

Stephan: He thinks the world of mobile apps is really finding its own right now. Mobile search isn’t here yet. His favorite app on his iPhone isn’t an app or a Web site, it’s 1-800-Goog411. He can tell his phone what he’s looking for and it connects him right up to it.

Brad: It’s screen sizes. Mobile search for local businesses isn’t here yet. Mobile search for true information isn’t here. The iPad is not a mobile device. He thinks for ecommerce, it’s tough to do it on mobile right now. It’s coming close for local but not for everything else.

Rich: For him, mobile is Yelp.

Patricia: It depends what you’re looking for.   She doesn’t think it’s a function of the device. It’s a function of marketers and a change in mindset.

What about international search? Baidu is one of the top 3 search engines. Any interest?

Brad: He went to Baidu the other day to see where it was going. He couldn’t find a good English version so he’s using Baidu on Chrome with Google Translator and can’t figure it out.   That’s something they have to work on. Belgium is the only country where Google isn’t 90 percent market share.

Kevin: He thinks China is a unique environment. When you talk about China, you need to talk about the government. When you talk about the government, you need to talk about things people don’t like talking about.  People don’t spend money online in China.

Is this something that should be on search marketer’s radar?

Kevin: His clients are spending money in all of those engines. Once you get the language and localization set, it’s a really good tool.

Stephan:  He’s hearing it’s pretty rudimentary algorithms. Pretty easy to optimize for Baidu. It’s also not too challenging to do okay in paid search in Baidu.

Maile: When we talk about competition, they do things well in their markets.  How can we help sites to build out to a more multi-lingual audience? A big focus for their search quality team is how can they help sites that have English version and French versions? They’ve put out a few best practices for that, but she’s all ears for feedback. The engineers want to hear the problems so they can solve them.

Brad: Should you be looking at Baidu? If you’re North America only? No. It depends where you serve.

Rathna: For Microsoft its a wide open field. They have international rollout plans for AdCenter and Bing so its a critical aspect that they’ll be focusing on from a product perspective.   They’re working on the North American migration for AdCenter. After that it’ll be the UK, France and beyond.

We’re visiting the future. It’s 5 years from now. What’s the hot issue? How have things changed and what’s of concern?

Maile:  There’s a plethora of devices coming out and Google TV is coming out soon. It’s about finding out how a user will be able to visit your site and make a conversion. They know on the phone you want to search for a restaurant. We’ve got that down. But there are probably other uses.  With Google TV you can merge your TV and Internet all in one. Someone can see something on CNN and they can pull up a search box on their TV and research what they just heard about. [Kevin Ryan congratulates them on doing what Playstation did years ago]  There are all these ways of how people will view your site.  You have to decide how you can adapt to this growing market place and what changes you can make that will speak to these news devices.

Brad: We’re going to be talking cross-platform distribution models. But we have to get past the privacy concerns with too many devices being connected to an individual.

Patricia: It’s going to come down to choices. How does this industry accommodate all the different choices that people have.  She sees specialization, people doing a certain type of PPC.

Stephan: We need to be prepared for a major disruption. If you remember back to DOS, you couldn’t have imagined what will come. But if you imagine what we’re at now, five years in the future things will be fundamentally different in how we interact with computers.  It’s going to allow us to be able to converse with our computers and have it translate that into text.   It’s so much efficient for us to talk to our computers than type. He thinks we’ll hit that in five years. [God, I hope not.]

Kevin: That Google Kool-aid is strong.  Two things will change – demand service providers and consumption will continue to evolve.

Rich: The fact that SEO even exists is a flaw in the fundamental ranking algorithm. We’re going to move away from that. [I…er…WHAT?]  The trick is how do you merge that into all the verticals that people look at.

Rathna: Mobile.

And we’re done. Thanks for hanging out with us today. See you tomorrow!

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