All Roads Lead Through Search

That's the theme of the upcoming Search Insider Summit (SIS) in Park City, Utah Dec. 9-11.

And it's been the theme of many of my Search Insider columns over the past three months. Well, OK, my personal theme ("Bringing Sexy Back to Search") has been a little more risqué -- but, same intended message.  

Today, I'd like to dive a bit deeper into this topic as a preview for the upcoming SIS, at which my role will be changing from resident buzz-tracker to master of ceremonies. As an aspiring rapper, I can't tell you how excited I am to be an official MC.



Search at the Center

Search has quickly moved to the center of most marketing plans. Not only is it one of the first line items budgeted, it is one of the last ones cut when times are tough.

While I was researching my book, "Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google," Penry Price, Google's vice president of global agency and industry development, shared with me that his team is having success "positioning [Google] ads as a sales channel, not a marketing expense."  And Bill Wise, now CEO of MediaBank, pointed out that CFOs in major corporations have come to agree that search is "no longer an operating expense but a cost of goods sold." 

Search has also been proven as a net for other marketing activities. Offline media drives search. Display drives search. Social drives search. And the list goes on.

To quote fellow Search Insider Janel Laravie from my book, "Search is a response to something." Or, as Jill Balis, executive vice president, managing director of SMG Search, put it, "People don't just magically search." And in the words of a wise leprechaun (not quoted in my book), "They'll never catch me Lucky Charms!"

It's also important to note that search can drive offline activity too, as proven in Yahoo's "Research Online Buy Offline" study back in 2007.

Despite the impact search has on other media and vice versa, there's always room for marketers to maximize the SEM channel itself as the landscape continues to evolve.

It's with that in mind that Day 1 of SIS will focus on improving productivity and performance within SEM. Our keynote will feature Tony Fagan, director of research at Google, sharing best practices for testing. And Graham Mudd of comScore will follow that up with insights into how Google Instant has changed the game.

Other Day 1 sessions include panel discussions on Like vs. Link and the Future of Web Ranking and Search and Social: Birds of a Feather or Different Flock? And we'll close the day with Search Insider Rob Griffin moderating a shootout among some of the leaders in the PPC technology space before breaking into the SIS patented roundtables where all attendees get a chance to share their thoughts.

Power to the Search Marketer

As I see it, there are five key attributes of search quickly leaking out beyond SEM to other platforms:

1. Precise audience segmentation
2. Dynamic creative messaging
3. Real-time bidding
4. Weighted attribution
5. Continuous optimization  

These core elements of SEM can now be found in social (Facebook Marketplace Ads), display (DSPs, trading desks, exchanges), mobile (AdMob), and even television (Google TV).

As a CEO, who would you trust to manage these emerging platforms for you? Someone with a career in planning and buying reserved CPM media (read: three-martini lunches) or someone who understands the complexities of operating in a market where the only constant is change?

Indeed, as search marketers, we're positioned better than ever to expand our roles. But we need to continue to understand the nuances of non-search channels in which the mindset and intent of the consumer varies greatly.


On Day 2 at SIS, we'll shift the focus to the integration of SEM and its core attributes into other marketing channels. David Zinman, vice president and general manager of display advertising at Yahoo, will put the spotlight on the intersection of search and display. Then Lou Kerner of Wedbush Securities will share insights into how Wall Street sees search and social colliding and monetizing.

Day 2 panels include your friend and mine, Janel Laravie, moderating a discussion on the application of search to mobile and retargeting as well as another esteemed Search Insider, Chris Copeland, on stage with reps from SAP, Kimberly Clark and Blackrock to see how these advertisers have applied SEM lessons to other channels. We'll also be hearing from Lauren Hufnal of Microsoft on the future plans for Bing and AdCenter.

It's Not Rocket Science, It's Neuropsychology

As I mentioned earlier, the mindset of the consumer is quite different when he/she is searching than when he/she is consuming content or communicating via social networks, mobile, etc.  

It's critical for search marketers to open our minds to these mindsets and mine the answers that the minds of the consumers can provide to the questions of yours and mine... as long as they don't mind sharing!

Sure enough, on Day 3 at SIS, we'll hear directly from consumers, with Michelle Prieb from Ball State leading a panel of college students discussing, among other things, where they draw the line on creepy when it comes to ad targeting. 

The other sessions on Day 3 will keep the emphasis on changing consumer habits and how marketers can capitalize. Panels and presentations from leading industry technology providers, data providers, research providers, and advertisers will flesh out best practices for data collection and targeting.

Pave your Path to Park City

If you've never been to SIS before, the one thing you should know is that this is not your typical search marketing conference. The setting is more intimate, the content more strategic, and the conversations more frequent.

Whether you're trying to maximize your SEM program or expand your role and/or the role of search in the mix, SIS is the place to be break through the buzz and capture the glory.  

Hope to see you there with rapped attention!

1 comment about "All Roads Lead Through Search".
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  1. Kaila Colbin from Boma Global, November 18, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.

    That rap is AWESOME, yo!

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