Searching in Groups in 2011

The future looks social for search

Consumers responding to an NPD Group survey of holiday spending suggest they would search or research online before buying gifts the 2010 holiday. The act of "pre-searching" makes for smarter consumers every year, and, of course, the increase in search activity to research products and information online won't stop at the end of the year. By 2011, social networks and mobile devices also will support more searches and the lines between platforms may start to finally seem as arbitrary as some have long claimed they are.

Facebook in September served up 24 percent of all online display ads in the U.S., according to comScore, yet eMarketer estimates the social site accounts for only 9.5 percent of the U.S. ad dollars spent. That will continue to rise. The amount of content consumption on the site will continue to grow substantially. Today, nearly one in four page views in the U.S. took place on for the week ending Nov. 13, 2010, according to Experian Hitwise. And guess what engine powers search across the Web from the site? Bing!

Through Facebook, Microsoft has the opportunity to change the way people, and especially Millennials, search online. This generation, with birth dates ranging from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, spends hours on Facebook. From within the social site they search the Web on the Bing-powered search engine with paid search ads that serve up supported by Microsoft adCenter.

The blurring lines between social and search will have a major impact throughout 2011. Bing has begun to integrate Facebook "Likes" in both the way the engine shows and ranks the results. With Facebook opening an API to third parties like Marin, Omniture, Efficient Frontier and others for advertising, members will begin to see a combination of social and search advertising. Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman says marketers and advertisers will use the same tools to procure ads both in search and on Facebook Marketplace. Marketers can create and manage ads similarly, creating ad groups, setting rules for bids, changing ad copy on the fly and testing. This improves less targeted ads to increase impressions.

Mobile search will increase in popularity, too. During his company's third quarter earnings call, Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's senior vice president of product management, told investors the company will generate more than $1 billion in revenue from mobile this year. The number intended to reassure analysts that emerging markets will augment search revenue in the long term will catapult mobile search to the forefront, agrees Frank Lee, senior vice president of client services overseeing paid search, conversion path optimization and display media at The Search Agency.

Then there's Horst Joepen, CEO at Berlin-based Searchmetrics, which focuses on search analytics. He believes the search engine optimization (SEO) industry will see the maturation and migrate toward a complete solution, rather than point solution tools, such as single applications. This eliminates the need to use Excel to compile a variety of data sources. As next-generation suites and keyword databases - and tools that analyze keywords and domains - replace monitoring, this trend will be more marked. These tools will also ease the integration of search, display and social into something akin to a single channel with multiple facets.

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