The Next Big Thing

Geographic targeting has long been employed by search marketers and has even revolutionized the delivery and management of search campaigns of both local and national advertisers -- but we still long for behavioral and demographic bidding overlays. With every inch of additional targeting available, we want a mile.

Still, I have to take a minute to call us out.  This call out is specific to paid search.  There is always something new or a change to adapt to, but in terms of impact, there hasn't been anything groundbreaking in a while.

By groundbreaking, I mean something that means we totally have to adapt the way we do our jobs, how we manage campaigns --  change that requires that adaptation to occur in a timely and accurate manner, or we'll have to face repercussions.

While some think the Microsoft/Yahoo deal is groundbreaking, it simply isn't, or at least not yet.  It is encouraging to see Microsoft's search market share grow; however, what have you had to change about the way you manage search?  If you are anything like everyone else I know, you have never capped your spending on Microsoft search and the "lift" can be referred to as incremental at best.  (There are a few industry verticals like travel not included in this broad statement.)



The most notable, "high impact," changes were Project Panama and Quality Score.  We went from seeing every advertiser's exact bid to being challenged to be a better marketer than the competition, and this was good, as long as you were a marketer.  I have witnessed more than one SEM agency that focused on total automation struggle ever since.  

As search has become more of a direct marketer's dream canvas, testing and targeting demands have increased and expectations of what should come next have been coming through in due order.  But will be the next big thing?

My theory is that the next big thing will happen outside of the search engines.  The next game-changer is imminent.  SEM technology companies have already emerged with platforms that are far outpacing agency proprietary systems.  Most agencies already have acknowledged this and are bringing one or more of these third-party systems within the agency to service their client bases.  This is the first part of it. 

The second part is this:  The same great technology platforms available to the agencies are also available direct to clients.  The SEM technologies are becoming so incredibly advanced that only skilled direct marketers are left with a place in this world.  Direct marketers, who can write compelling ad copy, enhance conversion rates through landing page and conversion path optimization, and develop creative and competitive offer strategies, will have their place.  Those that not only "test," but do it methodically and do not let the results of one test become law, challenging best practices and establishing their own: these are true search marketers. 

The change in the service provider to end user relationship is already happening.  Do you know where you stand?  My advice:  Anticipation is the key to early and successful adaptation.  Find your place now.

4 comments about "The Next Big Thing".
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  1. Loren Mckechnie from Move, INC, October 16, 2009 at 4:37 p.m.

    Evolution will separate the men from the boys. As it usually does. Buckle up and come along for the ride.

  2. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, October 16, 2009 at 4:45 p.m.

    Search has it's value when the right information is presented when requested by someone. Paid search doesn't really achieve this. And location, demographic, and behavioral doesn't either. When results are determined by who pays more, this becomes an obstacle to the 'best' result. Search giving people options in addition to exactly what they were seeking enhances the search experience.

    For example when I search for a company in the Yahoo Yellow Pages what pops up is not my answer that I desired, but their highlighted paid clients. So I have to go the extra clicks to have the listing by name or distance.

    Google works on what they think is relevance based on what pages are connected to other pages the most, which isn't perfect.

    Twitter searches conversations but really ranks them in order of being posted which means often lots of results are meaningless.

    I spent 15 minutes trying to find the IMDB page for the new movie Valentine's Day. neither google nor bing would spit it out. I had to go directly to IMDB to get to the page after seeing the trailer on Yahoo.

    Search still has a long way to go baby!

  3. Frank Watson from Kangamurra Media, October 16, 2009 at 5 p.m.

    The new tools like bid and account management for ppc - Refined Labs comes to mind as just one, the ad serving technology and even Black Arrow's dynamic insert for VoD. all give greater scope to rapidly test messaging with other elements.

    Nice article Janel, very forward thinking!

  4. Greg Hall from Yebol, October 16, 2009 at 5:01 p.m.

    I think next generation search engines will actually more resemble "Knowledge Engines that Learn." See

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