Search Gold In Dem Dar IHollywood Hills

When an iHollywood Forum event can spend a day and a half covering search engine marketing, a single column can't cover all the highlights. Last week, I discussed how important it is for consumers to discover video rather than just search for it. This week, I'll go much broader, offering fourteen search-themed insights from a number of speakers and panels.

To make the attributions easier, company names are listed with each takeaway, and the speakers are credited by name at the end.

1) Search planning is starting earlier. Google is talking to movie studios now about marketing films coming out next May.

2) Branding lives. Showtime said branding, awareness, and driving tune-in are critical for them. They need to rank high in natural results, and high rankings in paid results offer other positive effects for the brand.



3) Paid search builds brands before SEO kicks in.Showtime said that many of its shows are generic terms ("Weeds," "Meadowlands," "Dexter"), so as it works on optimization, it buys search ads when news of the show breaks.

4) Latency matters. When Showtime runs campaigns for subscriber acquisition, it will target customers who are in the process of moving. Some of those responses happen weeks later. One way the company tracks these responses is by offering rebates through the ad.

5) Search research creates entire businesses.  Fox said it saw that the most popular gaming search term was "cheats," so it created a site around that. Without advertising, it ramped up to reach 2 million unique visitors in a year and a half.

6) Previous campaigns inform the future. Showtime not only uses search results from one season to inform future seasons, but search volume can impact which characters and actors are featured and promoted.

7) Online influences offline. Google and Nielsen surveyed moviegoers and found that the Web was right behind TV and word-of-mouth for providing the most information about films, and online was on par with TV for the level of influence. About one-third of moviegoers were searching for films online. Google also noted that an outdated study showed a strong correlation between search volume and box office results. (Presumably, "Snakes on a Plane" phenomena -- all buzz and no box office -- are the exception.)

8) Sync search with offline campaigns. Showtime coordinates its paid search campaigns around offline campaigns such as TV commercials to capitalize on the extra traffic.

9) Awareness precedes search. Yahoo said search works best once consumers are aware of what they're looking for. Most of the awareness will happen offline, though Yahoo also plays a role in the awareness created online, which drives search, leads people to a given site, and then to an action that usually happens offline, such as watching a TV show. Yahoo's goal is to be a platform that drives awareness.

10) Search bolsters online display advertising. SEMDirector discussed the arbitrage model with search, in which publishers will pay for search ads to increase their site's pageviews and ad impressions. This is a much more sophisticated view of search's role, rather than just looking at the market share of paid search compared to rich media. Yahoo mentioned how display can drive search, and search can ramp up display impressions.

11) Search engines are the new Web browsers. It's now ingrained for people to enter Web site URLs into search engines. If people go to a search engine and see 10 different choices, NBC said a company needs to present itself as the best option.

12) Pay attention to off-site SEO. NBC said 40% of search engine optimization is on-site, 60% off-site (such as with link development). Blog outreach is one way NBC fosters the link building.

13) Video and image search are just starting to become viable for consumers. Blinkx compared technology that indexes videos' metadata to reading the title of a book and saying you read the whole book. Today Blinkx can identify written words within videos, such as street signs. Facial recognition is one of the next big hurdles.

14) Not all searches are created equal. Yahoo compared two types of searches that happen after a TV show airs. One is to catch up -- the searcher missed the episode but wants to joint the water-cooler chatter. The other searcher saw the show and wants to go deeper, potentially to participate in some way. It's an example of how similar searches can express needs for very different types of content. The onus is ultimately on marketers to meet those needs, though search engines are working on that too.

Focusing on any one of these nuggets can help you get more out of search. Thanks to all of the speakers for providing so much gold to mine:

Marc Esper, vice president of search, NBC Universal; Federico Grosso, senior vice president of business development, Blinkx; Robert Hayes, senior vice president/general manager-digital media, Showtime; Jyri Kidwell, entertainment category director - search marketing, Yahoo; James Lamberti, senior vice president search & media, comScore Networks; Bill Macaitis, vice president of online marketing, Fox Interactive Media; Adam Stewart, vertical director of media & entertainment, Google; and Dema Zlotin, founder & vice president of strategic services, SEMDirector.

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