Commentary

Search Insider Summit Round Table Takeaways - Day 1

Day 1

The round table sessions following day 1 of the Search Insider Summit were jammed pack and made for some very good discussions.

eCommerce Advertiser Round Table: Lucinda Duncalfe Holt, CEO of ClickEquations led this roundtable and provided the following notes:
There are fundamental shifts underway in search marketing. First, search and social are coming together. Second, there’s a coming wave of proliferation of search-like channels coming. These two dynamics will drive deep changes in search marketing.
The best way to think about the proliferation of channels is to go where your customers are. The reality is that the challenge about channel proliferation is less about the media and more about how hard it is to manage each new one because they aren’t mature yet, and all of them because it’s just too many to be able to do well.
The demand for expertise in so many channels will be good for agencies – they will be able to have specialists when very few in-house teams will have the scale to do it. This is going to create a major talent challenge.
More tactically, each search channel – SEO, Facebook, PPC – has its own set of challenges. SEO is changing radically; traditional SEO is going away. Sites are getting content from everywhere, and social is becoming more and more important. That said, the reality is that the vast majority of ecommerce sites sit early on the maturity curve, working on the basics. Simply being SEO-friendly is still the first step, and the reality is that the 10 blue links still rule. If you have inherent brand strength and do the basics, you’ll be fine. Next, create content that provides a solution for the user, focuses on their intent.
Some participants have driven great performance on Facebook. But it’s too hard for marketers to use, it’s very immature. Success depends on understanding user intent and optimizing their experience; it’s essential to target an expressed interest with a targeted ad and that creative degrades quickly.

At the end of the day, these new dynamics will bring marketing back to it’s true base. In recent years the key to driving performance was understanding the mechanics of “how to� better, that will shift back to driving better performance by understanding you customer better. 

 

Search Engines/ Portals/ Resellers Round Table: Toby Trevarthen, VP Business Development of Anchor Intelligence led this roundtable and provided the following notes:

Q - What 3 things popped out at you today?

  1. Organic vs Paid.  As technology evolves how do we keep up?
  2. Algorithms - will they remain somewhat static or evolve rapidly with the technology advancements?
  3. Finding Things, Not Searching Things.  Will it be one place or 100 places - passions will determine outcomes.

Q - How will Advertisers deal with being Generalist vs. Specialized?

  1. Time/Task/Location - new dynamics driving the need to be more specialized.
  2. Shopping Engines and the Atomization of Data.  Crawling sucks for this approach.  Average Behavior not good enough going forward. Will need a more specific solution.  A better understanding of what intent is - which bodes well for vertical searches.
  3. SEO will likely go away in next five years and search options become more fragmented and go beyond Core Engines.
  4. Structured data is critical to a shifting in general vs specialized.  UK is already advancing on this space with Open Data Program to make all government data available. 
  5. Who will or should own the quest to structure the world's data is very complex.  Does a government own this task?  Or will someone step up and own like DNS does? 

Q - Are we becoming too Complex for our own good?

  1. Complexity will be 10x more complex in two years then it is today.  Both Software and Hardware are evolving at similar paces.  So complexity will be greater, but ability to cope with keep up.  Require a lot of "reframing".
  2. Service Providers will have to fill the void by added value to help decipher the complexity.
  3. Hiring Experts - be it user agents, bots or service providers will likely become even more pronounced.  New opportunities and solutions will emerge to solve the new level of complexities.
  4. Many agreed that the challenge will become even more mind-boggling for the marketer who struggles to keep up with the pace of change and how it impacts its customer base.  Yet, several believed the marketer is the proxy for the customer and will be the most pivotal voice in determining how, who and what gets played out in terms of technology, services and solutions required.

 

Lead Generation Advertisers Round Table: Frank Lee, SVP, Agency Strategy of The Search Agency led this roundtable and provided the following notes:

The biggest impacts recently in paid search stem from a greater focus on the user experience. 

  • Media & Platforms
    • Search engines have innovated around the search results and are beginning to provide a much richer and relevant experience for users. 
    • Furthermore, remarketing tools like Google Remarketing and Yahoo’s Search Retargeting are becoming increasingly adopted as an additional media outlet for search marketers to leverage.  Another touch point with their consumers and the ability to target their ads based on consumer intent is very compelling.
    • Mobile seems to have finally arrived.  For the first time, no one mentioned issues with volume as a gating factor to mobile advertisers.  Variations of the word “Appleâ€� (iPhone, iPad, iAds) were seen as levers that will help cross the chasm for the industry.  Although still many unknowns (E.g. audience was not sure how to approach the iPad users), everyone agreed that the content & experience must be well executed in order to fulfill on this much anticipated opportunity.
  • Consumer Experience
    • Landing page & conversion path optimization has begun to flourish with marketers.  Just 6 months ago, many advertisers were not focusing too much in this area.  Now many in the group are beginning to invest in the consumer experience because they know it is critical to stay relevant (post-click) and provide a quality user experience.  Without a focus on post-click optimization, they will be hard pressed to stay competitive in the marketplace.   
    • Ongoing testing was the recommendation in the group.  Landing page optimization shouldn’t be seen as a short term project, but an iterative piece of SEM optimization.
    • Many tools were discussed, like ion Interactive, Omniture and Google’s Website Optimizer, as effective tools to use for testing.  Google’s tool seemed to be the easiest to work with, and a good platform to begin with.
Last major point of discussion was around the sheer number of “things� to do now.  Facebook, Twitter, iAds, etc, etc, etc!  Way too much to focus on right now and the group openly admitted that you can’t get to everything.  Prioritization and focus on the most impactful areas was  key to addressing this concern.
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