Search: Searching New Frontiers

The new year brings new ideas to search

Welcome to 2011 and say "hello" to predictive sentiment and social search on PC and mobile.

Look for Google to not only add a sentiment layer on search results, but continue to add social signals and features on the engine that drives query rankings. Similar rankings will make their way into social networks.

As social and search continue to create a mashup, some expect to see Facebook's site search engine become part of a long-term ad network play. AimClear founder Marty Weintraub keeps waking up in the morning expecting to hear the news. He believes the future key for queries remains in social data.

Weintraub isn't the only one. Andrew Pancer, COO at Media6Degrees, believes in 2011 the industry will hear an outcry from privacy advocates as soon as Facebook launches an ad network that works both on- and offsite. Facebook will remain committed to connecting social and search by weathering the storm to become one of the top ad networks in the United States by year-end.

The new ad network will give advertisers one-on-one targeting and retargeting capabilities based on search terms. Some believe it will increase CPMs and give Yahoo and Google's display-ad networks real competition. This remains a prediction until confirmed at the end of 2011.

Though search isn't the most important activity inside Facebook today, it could become more critical as the social network moves down the line integrating some of the most important human activity. A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed search remains the No. 2 online activity, second to email, a service Facebook introduced in 2010.

Advertisers who adopted mobile search campaigns early continue to benefit from higher click-through rates as more companies improve strategies, from Google click-to-call ads to revamped mobile Web sites. In 2011, expect to see mobile click-through rates rise and become more favorable than those on the desktop. Tablets will become close in size to mobile phones, perhaps 3 inches by 5 inches. Not quite the size of a smartphone.

Search works across all devices, though patterns differ. For those planning campaigns, James Beveridge, Performics senior analyst, says desktop search peaks on Monday and Tuesday and steadily decreases during the week and into the weekend; mobile search is the opposite. There's an uptick on Friday, with the heaviest volume on Saturday and Sunday.

Aside from mobile, search will become important on tablets, too. More companies will likely begin to think about treating tablets as a third device, says Beveridge. Fulfilling the demand for information on-the-go, any past limitations were created by tethering search to a desktop.

As for either 3G and 4G cellular connections through AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, telecom companies will get smarter and do away with structured contracts and termination fees - wishful thinking for the New Year.

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