Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo in San Jose kicked off sessions to a huge crowd. This year’s event seems to be exponentially larger than previous years, and I plan to confirm attendance later this week. I attended three sessions and interviewed Kevin Lee with Did-It Search Marketing. Highlights from sessions and the interview are below:
Searcher Behavior Research Update
I’ve been attending SES since 1999, and tend to find that 95% of the conference content is validation, with the remaining 5% offering new insights. As such, this session was enlightening on a few fronts. Bill Barnes from EnQuiro introduced a concept it recently tested: Pre Mapping. Pre Mapping is a user’s pre-conceived notion of where relevant information will occur on a search engine results page (SERP). Understanding this concept will help advertisers fine-tune bidding strategies and search engines improve their design. Additional highlights from the session include a research report from 360i & Search Ignite Research (the basis for white papers now available on their sites) that provide insights into the relationship between paid and organic search conversion, as well as effects of search on branded terms.
Leveraging Social Media
I was particularly interested in this session due to Anvil’s growing focus on grassroots outreach. While the audience was peppered with standard statistics, tools and examples, there were a few “Ahas!” from the presenters. Gary Stein from Ammo Marketing unleashed their concept of the “Clique-Through” where a clique is “a small exclusive group of friends or associates” and clique-through is “the degree to which a group hears and accepts your idea.” Stein went on to outline the four steps of a successful clique-through campaign. About.com’s CEO, Scott Meyer, provided a formula for success in social media (success = engagement + authenticity x target audience reach) and went on to explain the concept and application (via a plug for About.com’s model). The last nugget came from Hans Peter Brondmo, founder of Plum, a social media collaboration/sharing community currently in beta phase. Plum’s founder, a published writer, referenced an article he write about Open Source Marketing, which is a treatise on the concept of democratic marketing (a collaboration between a company or product’s marketers and their customers to shape the message and its distribution). It’s not a new concept by any measure, but I appreciated his moniker.
Searchonomics – Serious Fun & Stats
This session promised and delivered with a virtual deluge of statistics and studies from eMarketer and Hitwise. The numbers were nearly mind-numbing, but I’ll share the summary of why search has been and will continue to be a driving force in marketing: it’s measurable; it offers brand-building opportunities; greater sophistication and experience have further improved results; and strong growth in video, industry-specific verticals and overall e-commerce will buoy the industry.
Interview with Kevin Lee from Did-It
SMS: You’re a big believer in auction-style advertising and believe it will influence broadcast media, yet Google Print was far from a success. What do you think was at the root of the failure?
Lee: “The reason it didn’t work was that the benefit or value was not communicated…advertisers weren’t sure what they were actually getting, so it scared them away. Google Print needs to be revisited: redefining deliverables, logistics, etc. Overall, it was a worthwhile market test whose learning’s can be applied to the next iteration and other products. Print is also challenging because it’s not inherently scarce (i.e. – first come, first serve). Radio has more potential due to improved targeting and listener data. XM also has the potential with unique user ID/usage data.”
SMS: AdCenter’s now offers demographic targeting. What is your take on the value to advertisers? Do you foresee Google & Yahoo joining in?
Lee: “AdCenter has incredible potential to advertisers, as different segments convert at different rates and order values. The challenge is that MSN doesn’t pass the user profile data through on click. As a result, MSN campaigns require complex structures to map data back from conversion. Yahoo! and Google are waiting to see how MSN performs before entering the market themselves. The questions they have to answer include: Does increased relevance improve the user experience? Does the resulting lift create a meaningful yield for the search engines? Since search engines are worried about passing/sharing user data, the next likely opportunity will be tracking behavioral data, with Yahoo! leading the charge. The data is available through profiles, so the question is not if, but when and how to roll it out.”