What Got Us Buzzed At the Search Insider Summit?

It's quite fitting that my first column following the winter Search Insider Summit is also my last column of 2007. As loyal readers know, I always use my post-SIS column to recap the top buzzwords dropped at the summit. Now I have a chance to put the buzz in the context of a year-end review and new-year preview.

To that end, I've added an element of trending (ala Google Zeitgeist) to my buzzword bingo -- reporting on not only the most popular buzzwords but also the biggest gainers over past summits.

SIS Top Buzzwords (based on volume)

December 2007 - Park City

1. Consumers
2. Universal
3. Big Agencies
4. Query
5. Facebook
6. Analytics
7. Recession
8. Mobile
9. Widgets
10. Transparency

May 2007 - Bonita Springs

1. Transparency
2. User-centricity
3. Content
4. Analytics
5. Community, Connection (tie)
6. Integration
7. Discovery, Personalization (tie)
8. Social, Mobile, Video (tie)
9. Funnel
10. Intent

November 2006 - Palm Springs

1. Branding
2. Integration
3. Engagement
4. Assists
5. Mobile, Local (tie)
6. Long Tail
7. E-mail
8. Click Fraud
9. Truthiness
10. Relevance

December 2007 SIS Buzzwords - Top Gainers (vs. previous summits)

Note: I am equating consumers -- the top buzzword in Park City -- with user-centricity -- the top buzzword in Bonita Springs, which is why it doesn't appear on the list below.

1. Universal -- since Google rolled out universal search in May , the search marketing community has been abuzz speculating on its impact. I expect this trend to continue into 2008, as more marketers optimize alternate forms of digital content and Google rolls out universal results against more types of queries. I also expect Google to bow display ads on SERPs after the DoubleClick deal closes.

2. Big Agencies -- the opening keynote set the stage for three day's worth of debate over whether large traditional agencies can and will "get" search. For a quick run-down of both sides of the argument, visit the Media Post Raw blog . This is another issue that won't die down in 2008. I look for more consolidation in the space, with large shops scooping up specialized search firms as they acknowledge how critical search is to all aspects of marketing and realize how hard it is to build search expertise in-house.

3. Query -- it's great to see the community (finally!) embracing the term query to differentiate between explicit consumer-initiated activity and other forms of search defined as "anything Google does." This is a topic close to my heart and one I anticipate staying hot in '08, as more and more search firms stick a flag in the sand regarding their core expertise -- some will embrace all forms of performance-based media, others will develop full-service digital marketing capabilities led by "search-think," and still others will remain true to query-based marketing only.

4. Facebook -- it really should come as no surprise that Facebook bubbled up to top of mind at the summit. In his day 2 keynote , Jordan Rohan summed up Facebook's advertising strategy as "monetizing peer pressure" and noted that it's more important to know when and where someone wants to transact than what type of person they are (via profiling.) I couldn't agree more. Immediacy matters just as much as relevancy -- that's the lesson learned from search. I look for Facebook to have a major impact on the search marketing landscape in '08, whether it be incorporating Web search (via MSN?), reacting to news feed optimization or spawning regulation around data portability.

5. Recession -- despite the continued growth of search in 2007, we can't escape the growing concern over an economic downturn. This is a topic that Mark Simon and I went back and forth on a couple months ago. While I think a pullback could actually be good for search -- when times are tough, marketers load up on platforms with proven ROI -- I also think it could stunt innovation, with the Big 4 unwilling to take chances and upstarts unable to get funding.

6. Widgets -- in 2007 widgets emerged as a key weapon in the marketing arsenal, giving consumers the ability to interact with brands on their own terms. What remains unclear is just what the impact of widgetmania will be on search. A panel at SIS attempted to address this issue, but raised more questions than it answered. In 2008, I expect search marketers to figure out how to leverage widgets beyond the mere link-popularity benefits.

7. Torso -- the long tail emerged a few years ago as the buzzword du jour. Today, all the talk seems to be around the torso. Everyone seems to have the head covered, and businesses that are built for the tail have it wagging nicely. The next wave of opportunity is likely in the torso -- after all, as the tail gets longer, the belly gets fatter.

8. KSP -- Microsoft unveiled its Keyword Services Platform to glowing reviews (mine included. ) I guarantee this tool will make search marketers smarter in '08, and hopefully it will push Google and Yahoo towards becoming more transparent with their data (although I'm not betting on that.)

9. Flip -- lots of buzz around Google's '07 client Christmas gift -- the Flip Video. They also gave one away at the YouTube sponsored session at SIS.

10. Satisficing -- Gord Hotchkiss, SIS emcee, introduced this term in the context of understanding consumer behavior on SERPs. You can read more about it on his blog . This concept has interesting implications in a world of universal search.

Well, that's all the buzz that's fit to print. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year. May your search for resolution be fulfilled.



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