Search Industry Ka-tet Creates Room For Thought

It's been about a week now since MediaPost'sSearch Insider Summit in Utah, and I find myself looking back and rethinking some of the insights I gleaned from the event.  If you have not been, you should -- it is a wonderful intimate setting where the best minds of search engine marketing mingle and share experiences.  This is why I used the reference Ka-tet in the title and I guess that would make Ken Fadner our Dinh.  The two terms, taken from Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series, really do sum up our group, the event, and how tightly bound we all our in this space.


I have been to many MediaPost Search Insider events.  More than any of the others, this really got me thinking about search, Google, and what the future holds. I particularly enjoyed this year's first-ever Search Engine Idol, moderated by the ever-clever Aaron Goldman (@AaronGoldman), where alternative engines were demoed, competing on whichwas the best. Check out the link to see who won -- along with a bunch of POV tweets to #mpsis. What I found interesting here was that, Search3, and Goby did offer something very unique (I'll refrain from bashing because it put me to sleep). While others, seemed very cool and unique, they clearly have an uphill battle to truly create a competitive advantage. 



I particularly liked Goby's visualization, but as I stated in my tweets under @telerob, I did not see any reason Bing/Google could not buy them or just recreate this, given the amount of cash they both have.  Milo was a very cool Web-to-brick-and-mortar approach for retail and got my vote for the Idol award.  What would make this even more powerful is if it could integrate with the Red Laser iPhone app.  This is an app that allows you to scan any barcode and find out who has the product and if it's in stock. At the dinner table Geoff Shank of Kenshoo  scanned the bar code on the table wine and found a half dozen wine stores in the area with the product.  Amazing, is all I can say!  As a result of how unique both of these were, I panned Search3 at the time.

While Search3 did not show well, I have been playing with it since then, and on its own it has an interesting angle.  The challenge the company will have is the amount of marketing required to retrain the general population's search behavior and demonstrate the value in comparative search results.  Bing has shown that even with millions of dollars, it is a hard and long fight to get consumers to stop using the word "google" as a verb to replace search. 

But I wanted to test-drive Search3 myself. I have been looking to buy new skis and thought it would be neat to stack Google, Yahoo, and Bing results side by side.  So I searched for Karhu Spire BC skis at Search3.  Check out the results page, it's fascinating.  Looking at all three SERPs side by side you can see very unique differences in the algorithms.  Any good SEO specialist can start to reverse-engineer why brand sites versus retailers are favored between the engines (I'd love for all the readers here to use the micro-blog space below to begin to dissect any unique differences y'all see and why).

This is what started to get me thinking about what the future holds.  Then, on the heels of these thoughts, Google starts rolling out real-time search and perpetual personalization.  Regardless of what you think of how it handled these roll-outs, the products themselves, or Google as a company, one cannot argue that it has a vision of the future. If anyone wants to put a dent in its business, they are going to need a very strong product, leverage viral-consumer momentum, and move fast.  Google has shown again and again it can move and evolve quickly. 

So long story short, who knows what the future holds, but I think 2010 is going to be an awesome year.  There is a sea of change and globalization ahead of us and hopefully we will come out of the recession. Regardless of what happens, change is afoot -- and to me change means opportunity. 

For anyone who cares, I bought the Karhu Spire BC skis with 22Designs HammerHead bindings from Telemarkdown.  I encourage any pinheads out there to check out the Fey brothers' site -- they offer great package deals. What better way to start off the new year of change than earning some turns on new skis?

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