SES Dreams For The Future

After the first night of Search Engine Strategies in New York last week, I had a dream that a friend thought she was pregnant and I tried to find her doctor's number using search engines; even after constantly revising my query, I came up empty. The next day at Search Engine Strategies, I was in a conversation with David Vise, author of The Google Story, and he mentioned how searching for healthcare information presents a major untapped opportunity for search engines and technology companies.

The same night I had the first dream, I also dreamt I was eating dessert with the co-founder of the company discussed in my "Fear of the O-Word" columns on outsourcing; after grabbing an oversized portion of ice cream, I rummaged through the kitchen for chocolate syrup and whipped cream. The next day, at the conference, I ended up sitting down for two lunches and wound up with two little bags of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies.



Riding high on my dreamtime prophecies, I'll share some other dreams I've had based on conversations and experiences at SES.

I dream that click fraud will one day merit the press attention it deserves. Click fraud's about as big a threat to search engine marketing as a whole as computer viruses are to Internet usage. Protecting marketers from click fraud is similarly as important as protecting computer users from viruses. Let's pay more attention to the real struggles search engine marketers deal with, such as the one that led to the dream below:

I dream that there will be enough beverages for lunch at future SES events.

I dream that analytics tools from the search engines and third parties will better account for latency, branding, and offline conversions. Then we'll be able to stop dreaming about the real value of search engine marketing.

I dream that presenters will use statistics as honestly as possible in their presentations.

I dream that consumer empowerment will continue to be the driving force for search engine innovation.

I dream that search marketing will continue to draw more sophisticated professionals than the overall online advertising industry. I haven't reviewed demographic profiles of recent events, but at SES the average age and seniority level of attendees seemed significantly higher than other large-scale interactive industry conferences.

I dream that there will be new badges for people only there to pick up schwag. They will be tagged as "Schwag Baggers," and they'll be allowed to collect all the schwag they can in 15 minutes or less, and then step aside so that those of us there for meaningful conversations can freely take part in such.

I dream that "vertical creep" won't just be a term denoting vertical listings appearing in the main body of search engine results, but that it will one day be the preferred insult to hurl at tall people. ("Randy Johnson, try throwing one in the strike zone, you vertical creep!")

I dream that the consumer will be the star of future events, not the afterthought. In an agenda of more than 60 sessions, only two mentioned the consumer in the title. One was on searcher behavior research, which drew a packed room. I missed the other one, "Converting Visitors into Buyers," but it sounds a little disturbing from the consumer perspective. If consumers knew that proselytizing marketers were out to convert them, they'd probably stick to their own faith.

I dream that search engines, ad agencies, and search marketing firms will continue to find new ways to provide value for their clients. I dream that consumers' privacy will always be respected, especially as personalization and targeting technologies improve. I dream that the next time I have a dream about not being able to find something using a search engine, it will be a ludicrous joke and not a reflection of how far the search engine space still has to go.

In the meantime, I wish you sweet dreams for the future, and sweeter success in making those dreams come true.

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