Before recapping the top ten buzzwords dropped in Park City earlier this month, let's quickly review the lists from previous conferences to see the evolution of the conversation. And, if you haven't already, I also suggest reading the recent reflections on SIS from Gord, Janel, and Rob.
November 2006 - Palm
5. Mobile, Local (tie)
6. Long Tail
8. Click Fraud
5. Community, Connection (tie)
7. Discovery, Personalization (tie)
8. Social, Mobile, Video (tie)
3. Big Agencies
3. Social, Facebook (tie)
7. Data, Analytics (tie)
10. Mobile, Local (tie)
2. Economy, Recession (tie)
3. Data, Analytics, Attribution (tie)
4. iPhone, Mobile (tie)
6. Relationship, Transparency (tie)
7. Strategy, Tactics (tie)
8. Bid Management, Quality Score (tie)
5. Bless You, Gezundteit (tie)<
6. Economy, Recession (tie)
7. Free, SEO (tie)
9. Social, Mobile (tie)
December 2009 - Park City
1. Google. After a brief hiatus, Google reclaimed its spot atop the list of most discussed topics at SIS. Context ranged from its quality score to its agency relationships to its hiring practices to its AdMob acquisition. Tone ranged from satisfaction to envy to anger to fear. About the only continuity as it related to Google was that it was a part of nearly every thread. Personally, I was not surprised to see that the company that's taught us so much about marketing, product development, and even dating, served as the springboard for discussion at the Summit. In a sense, Google was the background beat to the conversation in much the same way John Whitfield -- who embodies Google dating lesson #15 -- was the beat-box, er... foot stomp, to my Booyah freestyle -- which, thankfully has not yet seen the light of YouTube.
2. Crap, Suck, Puke (tie). Having Avinash Kaushik, Google's analytics evangelist ( love that title by the way, does that require being ordained?) as the Day 1 keynote certainly didn't hurt the spread of the G1 virus throughout Park City. True to form, Avinash laid down some "straight-talk" to attendees using a powerful combination of crap, suck, and puke to get his points across. MediaPost's Laurie Sullivan has a good recap of Avinash's presentation and anyone that's seen Avinash speak knows he has a propensity to drop C, S, and P-bombs so I won't rehash the context here. That said, it was quite interesting to see this lingo carry on throughout the remainder of the Summit -- and, no, I'm not referring to the late-night jaunts in downtown Park City. Olivier Lemaignen of Kodak Gallery got into the action when he described how his team likes to "optimize the crap out of search." John Straw of SearchDNA pointed out that a lot of the tools available for link building today flat-out suck. I even dropped a "suck" during the voting of Search Engine Idol -- at minute-marker 52:45, to be exact.
3. Attribution. Given that attribution is one of Avinash's favorite topics, it held that this was a focus of his session. But Avinash was not the only one with attribution on the brain. The importance and lack of effective attribution models was cited in Rand and Rob's Day 2 keynote as rationale for why paid search commands such a large share of SEM budget. It also pervaded Mike Moran's keynote as one of a number of topics that the C-Suite doesn't care about. As for what does get their attention, here's a clue.
4. Social. SIS has become a social summit -- and again, I'm not referring to the late-night festivities. If there were any lingering doubt about the close connection between search and social, Chris Copeland of Group M Search and Graham Mudd of comScore laid out compelling proof that the two channels are not only intertwingled but play nicely together.
5. Agencies. SIS is always a well-attended event from an agency perspective. Reps include SEMs, traditional shops, and even PR firms. At this Summit, Rob Griffin of Media Contacts threw down the gauntlet to agencies, saying that search as we know it is dead , and agencies need to adapt by rounding out SEM personnel into multidisciplinary roles.
6. SEO. Anytime you give Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz the floor, you can be sure that SEO -- not to mention, funky PPT graphics -- will be front and center. But Rand was not alone in highlighting the merits of SEO and signaling a shift in how the practice is perceived within client-side organizations. In various hallway conversations, many of the marketers discussed how their companies have incorporated SEO-think into their day-to-day activities. Clearly there's room for improvement in tightening processes and further evangelizing the benefits but it was nice to see how much traction SEO has gained across a wide swath of companies.
7. Twitter. Get a bunch of search geeks together and Twitter inevitably bubbles up -- whether it be discussing how the platform intersects with search, or the latest wisecracks tagged with #MPSIS. The influence -- or lack thereof -- of links in tweets on SEO rankings was a hot topic in Rand and Rob's session. And the streaming tweets at the bottom of my Search Engine Idol PPT -- using this awesome SAP template -- was a big attention-getter. Maybe, as Chris Knock of Omniture was quick to point out, too big.
8. Metrics. Speaking of search geeks, you know how we like us our metrics. Avinash set the tone, pointing to key performance indicators like repeat visits that can tell you if your attribution model is really LMCU -- Let's Make Crap Up. Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro, our ever-effervescent Summit emcee, followed that up with some tasty food-for-thought during his "After the Click" panel, serving up important metrics to consider -- and the proper ways to consider them -- regarding landing page interaction. Hint: time-on-site is important, but less is more when it comes to DR programs.
9. Bing. Steady as she goes, Bing slowly crept its way up the Buzz-o-Meter -- much the same as it's inched along in search share. As Katherine Shappley of Microsoft Advertising put it, "Working in search at Microsoft is like being a Saints fan. It's slowly paying off." Katherine also had another gem, pointing to the days when Bing was known as Live Search as the time her mom didn't know what she did. Clearly, Bing has made great strides in terms of product development and marketing.
10. Yahoo, AOL (tie). I tried not to cop out with ties this go-round but couldn't escape this one and its deeper meaning. Perhaps it was the fact that AOL paid its way into the conversation with a sponsored breakfast session to, ironically, promote its new paid inclusion platform. Or maybe it's the fact that Yahoo has, not surprisingly, shown less and less dedication to search resulting in its eroding share. Whatever the case, the fact that AOL was as top of mind as Yahoo is certainly buzzworthy in its own right.
Once again, SIS proved to be the place to be for all the buzz that's fit to tweet. If you have yet to make it to one of these events, mark your calendar for April in Captiva and see if you -- or your topic du juor -- can tilt the buzz-o-meter.