Has Search Lost Its Luster?

Search marketers remain a busy bunch of people. There is always significant change about which we need to worry and for which we need to adjust. Whether it’s dealing with Enhanced Campaigns, new APIs, PLAs, new opportunities to reach users or just the constant honing and optimizing campaigns -- there always seems to be more on our plates than we can handle given the constraints of a 24-hour day.

But in spite of the continued evolutionary changes to the search industry and the no-time-for-rest attitude of search marketers, things are really pretty darn stable. In preparing for this column, I scoured blogs, newsletters and twitter feeds for something juicy to talk about. What controversy can I discuss? What grand prediction can I make or refute?

You know what?  Search doesn’t seem all that exciting anymore.

While display has the craziness and layers of acronyms and players, and social is trying so hard every day to come up with better ways to monetize their users, search is mature. Search is -- dare I say it -- more mundane. Oh I know we are living in “the year of mobile” and hey, look at that guy wearing Google Glass! But then we go back to optimizing keywords and creative.



Has search lost its luster? Has it lost its importance?

Let’s just admit it as a group: Search is not sexy, nor is it cool-- at least not as much as it once was.  But you cannot beat search for reaching customers with clear intent. Search is the best medium ever invented for communicating to customers who actually want to hear from you.  And seriously, for marketers, it does not get any better than that.

Search is the world’s biggest focus group, where a huge percentage of Internet users every day let us know what they want, what information they need and how we might help them. Every day, consumers ask search engines things they wouldn’t ask their friends, spouses, or pharmacists. They open their souls to Google and Bing and Yahoo and Baidu and Yandex. They type in their hopes and dreams and fears. If that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.

Search is mature. Search is stable. We should not be bothered by this or feel envious of other channels.  Search is still the king at the top and bottom of the purchase funnel. We are still the straw that stirs the drink. Search affects offline consumer behavior in clear ways that we are only beginning to harness. And as the world changes, it is likely only to bring search more deeply into people’s lives. It's an evolution, not a revolution.

I don’t know about you, but that's pretty exciting to me -- even if search no longer grabs all the industry headlines.

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