First it was the bear pooping in the woods. Then it was the tree falling in the forest. Now we have the deer buzzing in the valley. Where will it end? Who knows? Probably down by the bay.
Indeed, there was a distinct buzz in the (thin) air of Deer Valley, Utah this week as search geeks the world over flocked to the Search Insider Summit.
1. Google – From enhanced campaigns to PLAs to the Knowledge Graph to RLSA, the conversation consistently revolved around Google. Some folks (such as Mr. Rob Garner) saw the Google Glass as half-full. Others (such as Sir Neil Doshi) called attention to the Trojan horse of Android driving Google+ adoption. Whatever the thread, life imitated search, and the Big G was omnipresent at SIS.
2. Mobile – With research showing that 44% of paid search clicks on Thanksgiving and Black Friday came from phones and tablets, it’s no surprise that mobile was on the mind of marketers. We analyzed multiple mobile matters including cross-device tracking, showrooming behavior, and app activity. More and more marketers are developing mobile-first strategies, and much of the data we saw supported this. Speaking of data…
3. Big Data – If Brent Spiner had an older brother, he’d have been the star of this show (or at least given Rob Griffin a run for his money). Nearly every presentation referenced Big Data and offered suggestions on how to crunch it. Cezanne Huq from Intuit talked about building an in-house DMP. Vikram Somaya discussed leveraging weather patterns to trigger ads. And Tim Krozek from Boost CTR showed how small sets of big data can be applied to improve creative.
4. Attribution – Generating insights from big data is only half the battle. Acting on them is the other half , the key to winning the war. Nowhere is this more evident than with attribution. Many marketers shared their approaches to attribution and pretty much everyone agreed there’s no one right way to do it. The key is to continually refine your models -- and, once you have proper buy-in across the org, use the outputs to update bids as close to real time as possible.
5. SEO – Keyword-not-provided is the new four-letter word being thrown around our industry, and the nasty language was certainly on display at SIS. The net-net is that we just have to work a bit harder to get the data needed to improve organic rankings. Or we can always buy it via paid search.
6. Local – Wendy Sturgis of Yext threw out a stat that 50% of all local searches were mobile, so getting the Mo right in LoMo is more important than ever.
7. Social – I moderated a panel of talented vocalists (watch the first five minutes here) and accomplished marketers examining ways to leverage social data to improve search, and vice versa. From using keywords to inform social content strategies to taking trending hashtags and bidding on them in search, there was no shortage of practical tips to connect these channels.
8. Native – There was no disagreement about search being the best native ad unit of all time, but there was a fair amount of controversy over what other native formats could rival paid search in terms of performance, scale, and efficiency. Yahoo stream ads emerged as a worthy contender.
9. Facebook - Rob Creekmore from Facebook did a great presentation on how social can make search work harder. He also did a great bit of spoken word.
10. Customer – Believe it or not, in the 8 years I’ve been attending SIS, this term has never cracked the Buzz-o-Meter. Consumers hit the big board in December of 2007 but this was the first time a focus on active customers stood out as a theme across sessions.
11. Remarketing – This could very well be the catalyst for the customer revolution. There are many new ways to engage current customers and drive them to (re)action – RLSA, FBX, and Custom Audiences are some of the ones that came up at SIS.
12. Content – There seems to be a general discontent when it comes to content. Whether it’s generating more of it in a fast and cost-effective manner or tailoring it for different goals and audience segments, the challenge of developing content that resonates with search engines and customers alike is, well, challenging.
13. Creative – Ad-E, the creative robot genius, did not make an appearance at SIS this week, nor did her sidekick, Frank Lee from DataPop. Instead, Jason Lehmbeck stepped into his tiny shoes and talked about how automation can help you put your best creative foot forward.
14. Tools – As the Lumascape gets more crowded, it gets harder and harder to keep up with all the point solutions available to help with various aspects of search and digital marketing. Luckily Gerry Bavaro of Resolution is the Tool King (not to be confused with King Tool!) and name-checked a good 15-20 tools during our session. Fast-forward to 27:14 here for the rundown.
– SIS presenters roundly encouraged attendees to continually test and see what works for their businesses -- whether a tool or a tactic -- since the only best practices that matter are the
ones that work best for you.
16. Yahoo – The skiers atop Deer Valley weren’t the only ones reaching new heights this week. Yahoo’s stock also reached its 365-day peak, as the market responds well to continued product innovation led by Marissa Mayer. The company's impact on the search world hasn’t been too dramatic. but there’s plenty to look ahead (and up) to.
17. Bing – The little engine that could keeps proving it can. From making it easy to clone Google ads to bowing new rich-image formats, Bing is giving search marketers the best of both worlds.
18. Twitter – The opportunity with Twitter ads today more closely resembles the search marketing sweet spot of text ads and keyword targeting than any of the other social formats. The only thing missing is the commercial intent. Speaking of commercials, though, the Twitter TV connection is quite strong, with marketing opportunities still emerging.
19. Weather – As temperatures tracked in the teens, we were reminded how important a variable weather can be -- and how critical it is to consider context when making strategic planning decisions.
20. MFer – The MFs at Rakuten MediaForge outfitted all Tuesday-night-after-party-goers with some fresh lids, instantly transforming tame search geeks into trendy search gods.
Until next time… hope you enjoyed catching that buzz, deer.