Search Insider Summit Round Table Takeaways - Day 1

Day 1 of the Search Insider Summit began with a number of sessions that offered great content that had the attendees really thinking about their search strategy.  Fortunately for everyone, we were all able to partake in round table discussions to recap the day and share our thoughts.  Here is a summary of the discussions:

eCommerce Advertiser Round Table: Scott Brinker, President of ion interactive led this roundtable and gathered the following key takeaways from the group:


We had some great discussions around the e-commerce roundtable this morning. Way more ideas than room for them in the blog summary, I'm sure, so here is the handful that seems to have the most momentum:


·         There is a lot of low-hanging fruit available for most marketers when moving further down The Long Tail. Avinash's examples with eBay and Toyota were compelling.

·         Attribution is important, but probably not as important as some of the basics that still need to be addressed for many companies.

·         The notion that search is 5% pre-click, 95% post-click resonated with many around the table -- but the challenge is often getting the resources and higher-level coordination in place to make that happen.

·         All of this morning's topics -- analytics, attribution, conversion optimization, qualitative and quantitative marketing -- all span across multiple groups (search, display, web site, landing pages, etc.). The need for CEO/CMO buy-in into the power of digital marketing is because interdepartmental coordination among these groups is probably not self-organizing and needs to be mandated from the top down (while being motivated from the bottom up).


Lead-Generation Advertiser Round Table: Frank Lee, SVP of Client Services for The Search Agency led this roundtable and gathered the following key takeaways from the group:


The lead-gen advertisers had quite a few topics that were discussed and new ideas were embraced.

·         Avinash’s long tail keyword strategies made a lot of sense for businesses.  But there are some gating factors that make it more difficult to implement and generate a positive ROI.

o   Often times, the collective cost of long tail keywords that generate minimal value to an account could be significant.  However, since each individual keyword does not have enough data to be statistically significant, it’s hard to make decisions on them.

o   Matching technologies in the search engines often serve head term ads rather than the ads for the long tail keywords we are buying.  Furthermore, the minimum CPCs for some long tail keywords sometimes make it cost prohibitive to buy them.  The search engines need to allow us to control the levers to buy the keywords and ads that we want.

o   Many advertisers expressed low returns in these keywords vs the time invested in managing them.

·         Facebook has become an interesting channel for advertisers.  Due to the sheer volume of impressions, granular targeting capabilities, and easy to use UIs and API access, some advertisers are seeing good efficiency.

·         Landing page optimization is still not used as much as it should.  However, all advertisers mentioned that this would be a big initiative in 2010.

·         Google’s Comparison Ads could be a big threat to lead gen advertisers if/ when it expands from the mortgage/ refinance space.  The advertisers will keep close tabs as this unfolds.


Brand Advertiser Round Table: Ben Hanna, VP of Marketing for led this roundtable and gathered the following key takeaways from the group:


In addition to broadly praising the day's content, the discussion among this group of brand marketers, marketing generalists (responsibilities across online and offline) and agency professionals revolved around two basic themes:


·         Challenge of "selling" the online channel to the CEO and other internal constituencies:

o   Ongoing debate about the role of the company web site, or whether to even have a web site, within some larger companies with no online sales or direct web site monetization (e.g., products sold through retailers, high price point products/services sold by direct sales force over a multi-month sales cycle, etc.).

o   Concerns about "messing up" on new digital initiatives greatly delay discussion and implementation of these initiatives.

o   Hard data needed to make headway in this debate.

o   Avinash Kaushik's data on the traffic impact of buying branded terms was exactly what one attendee needed to make a more effective pitch for this within her organization

o   An agency attendee recommended understanding where the "fear" of digital comes from in the org and provide examples or case studies from other industries which address that fear.

o   Another attendee described how critical it is to root out barriers to digital initiatives in existing company market research - while certain data may be widely cited internally as a reason not to pursue certain digital strategies, this data is often weak (e.g., one question in a much larger study).

o   Day 2 session Selling Search to the C-Suite should be very valuable to this brand advertiser group.



·         Operational barriers to execution on digital strategies:

o   Group saw operational, cross-department  issues (e.g. Marketing wants to improve SEM / SEO but Operations or IT own the web site) as the biggest barrier to taking advantage of many of the Day 1 Summit ideas such as landing page optimization.

o   Lots of quick fix or "band-aid" execution on web site or search issues but getting larger initiatives through requires either months of effort or knowing how to get landing pages created and live outside the standard process.

o   Recognition in the group about the need for a common set of web site operational metrics to support internal negations with other groups. Even if the web site does not monetize directly, there is a need to state "this is where we are today" through metrics. For example, if exposure to certain site content is seen as a critical step in the buying process, focus on visits to that content.

o   Within the standard metrics, it is also important for all parties to understand the qualitative context. For example, more time on site is often viewed as good but can also indicate that visitors are not finding the content they need as efficiently as possible. Bounce rate can be misleading for longer purchase cycle products/services when a single page visit is actually someone conducting early research on a purchase, landing directly on the page they want, and bookmarking or emailing a link to that page to someone else involved in the purchase.


Search Engine/ Portals/ Resellers Advertiser Round Table: David Levy, Director, Marketing & Business Development for Resolution Media led this roundtable and gathered the following key takeaways from the group:


·         Engines are ok with resellers as long as they add value to the user....customer reviews, etc.

·         Mobile will be key for the engines in 2010. With Google acquiring admob it will be interesting to see if they can bring mobile/video/ppc/etc data all together.

·         Google will expand to publishing in 2010 and will steal dollars from traditional publishers because their technology will provide more efficiency.

·         "Real time" will be key for engines in 2010. But, this brings newest always best? Is it better to have newer in the listings or the most relevant listing?

·         SEO will get harder in 2010 as social media expands and due to such a huge focus on inbound links.

·         Google's biggest fear: not continuing to innovate internally. Do they just keep innovating thru acquisitions or will they be able to bring back that internal innovative spirit?

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