Anyone who knows me knows I love strategy. I have railed incessantly about our overreliance on tactical execution and our overlooking of the strategy that should guide said execution. So imagine my discomfort this past week when, in the midst of my following up on the McLuhan theme of my last column, I ran into a tidbit from Ray Rivera, via Forbes, that speculated that strategic management might becoming obsolescent.
My daughter, who is in her senior year of high school, recently wrote an essay on Marshall McLuhan. She asked me to give my thoughts on McLuhan's theories of media. To be honest, I hadn't given McLuhan much thought since my college days, when I had packed away "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" for what I thought would likely be forever. I always found the title ironic. This book does many things, but promoting "understanding" is not one of them. It's one of the more incomprehensible texts I've ever encountered.
Last week was the 14th Search Insider Summit. This semiannual gathering of search geeks in ski town is always full of hot topics and cold weather -- but this time, we outdid ourselves on all fronts. In his opening remarks, MediaPost chairman Ken Fadner announced that this SIS was the biggest yet in terms of attendees and sponsors. Indeed, the number of participants was directly proportionate to the number of topics covered. In short, we went long. To commemorate the biggest SIS to date, I give you the biggest Buzz-o-Meter to date: a full top-20 list of the buzzwords dropped …
It's hard to take search marketing seriously these days. So I won't try. Instead, I'll offer light-hearted thoughts on some of the biggest challenges that we faced as an industry in 2012. Hopefully it will remind us of how petty our concerns are relative to the concerns of others.
Properly categorized keywords can fuel strategy. As we approach 2013, give your campaign structure an internal audit for ad delivery, reporting and ROI -- a bit of marketing mise en place. In the new year, resolve to reorganize, starting by isolating intent. Not many marketers group keywords by intent, but there's so much to be gained by doing so. Identify categories with high growth potential, prioritize, find the most important keywords, and then give them some legroom.
The first time in a big city it's easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by all the lights, the signs, the people, the options. You are overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown your way as you step off the bus. But maybe you have a guidebook, or did a lot of research in advance. Maybe you found a way to distill all that information into just the useful bits that will help you enjoy your trip. This is similar to how one may approach "Big Data."
It may be a bit premature to write about 2012 in the past tense. Three weeks in the world of search engine marketing is enough time to see Google implode and Duck Duck Go take a market share lead. But I'm not scared. I'm confident that we can safely close the books on 2012 and look ahead to 2013. Confident enough, at least, to roll the dice here and recount what I believe were this year's 10 most important developments in search.
Marketers are now at a critical junction in determining their course through the real-time marketing landscape. The approach includes search, social, and content, but to an even greater extent, it requires this real-time presence to meet the expectation of your audience. While the Internet has always been real-time, we are just now at a point where we can truly say that society is indeed networked. Going real-time is not a choice, but rather the new rule of the game.
I'm currently reading a fascinating paper titled "Evolved Responses to Landscapes" by Gordon Orians and Judith Heerwagen that was written back in 1992. The objective was to see if humans have an evolved preference for an ideal habitat. The researchers called their hunch the Savanna Hypothesis, noting that because homo sapiens spent much of our evolutionary history on the plains of tropical Africa, we should have a natural affinity for this type of landscape.
My column on customer segmentation and searcher personas last week left me with a few lingering thoughts to explore. I began that piece with opening remarks to set the stage for the opinions that followed. I noted, "The ability to communicate with intended audiences through relevant language, and in appreciation of expressed intent, are established keys for effective search engine marketing. You have to know your audiences, and what their needs are, to realize any degree of success." On the surface, those statements aren't controversial. They're not likely to provoke rebuttals or differing opinions. But that last sentence, more than …