Search and analytics have always been linked -- but more than ever, the analytical side of what we do to drive effective search marketing requires us to rethink how we use data. I was reading Avinash Kaushik's new book, "Web Analytics 2.0," during a plane ride, and it got me thinking. To date, most of the analytics we do with search is just clickstream data that answers the "what" question. But what about the "why" behind it all?
Yesterday, I was eavesdropping on a debate about open-source vs. closed systems. I found the debate fascinating because two of the most important contributors to what our search experience might look like live at opposite ends of this debate. Apple is adamant about locking down every aspect of the user experience. Google wants to open it up to any and all comers. The third player, Microsoft, sits somewhere in between. The debate was about who might prevail. I was uncharacteristically silent during all this, because I had to think about it before throwing in my two cents. Now, 24 hours …
One thing I've noticed in the years I've been in this business is that the biggest trends are not kicked off by any one single person, discussion, or presentation. They tend to be a product of the conversation at large. The dialogue about search that I'm having now is very different from what it was a year ago. What is fascinating to me is how people whom I have never met, or haven't spoken with in some time, have emerged with similar findings, and similar observations about where things are going. Here is what the collective "everybody" has been saying.
Some years ago, I had a boyfriend who was prone to fits of jealousy. A close friend of mine, also male, gave me this advice at the time: "If you're dealing with someone who has trust issues, you have to give him an overload of information. Tell him everything, so there's no room for his imagination to fill in the blanks." Going by Google's behavior this past week, I suspect that same friend is now advising its strategists.
At the I|O Conference last week, Google made it abundantly clear it's going after Apple (and many others), and that it's all in for HTML5. It's also clear Google is all in for TV by officially introducing Google TV. One last thing Google is all in for is mobile, having announced a new Android OS. One thing the company doesn't seem to care much about any more is search. That is, it would be easy to conclude that, since search per se didn't come up once during the conference. But it's easy to see why all the things Google is …
The other day I had to spend about an hour driving on the freeway. Usually I get into the fast lane and set the cruise control at about 70 mph, and away I go. This day I managed to spend my entire drive with the cruise on, not once having to change lanes. This gave me the chance to watch a pissed-off young lady in a late-'90s Camaro, weaving all over the road cutting people off, jumping at holes in traffic, getting a bit ahead of me and then falling behind me as well. Obviously it made me think of …
What the hell is happening? Everything is changing, and it's changing much too quickly. We keep hearing that the game has changed, that nothing we knew before is still applicable. Ironically, I'm seeing a different trend. I'm seeing a need to return to our roots.
To be sure, Siri is not yet ready for prime time, but it has all the makings of a Siri-al Google Killer. And, with continued investment from Apple, it's not unreasonable to think that Siri could do to search what the iPhone did to phones -- that is, completely change the way we think about them from both a consumer and marketing standpoint. Here's my chat with Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus.
"Hang on," you're saying to yourself right now, "Isn't this the same Kaila Colbin who, not three weeks ago, predicted Facebook would kick Google's posterior?" Why yes, it is. So why am I arguing the opposite today? Well, to cover my predictive bases for one -- but, more importantly, because the opposite view is potentially much more interesting.
Once upon a time, search meant learning more about the world by typing a keyword into a search box and being presented with an authoritative SERP. Search advertising meant running an ad based on the keyword a user typed. While search has been changing at a slow creep for a few years now, the change agents have accelerated their impact on the landscape in the past 18 months, which is going to make search marketing that much harder. Let's look at some of these changes, and what they mean for paid search marketers.