I have recently returned from arguably the most in depth, interesting and well attended event involving the search industry Mediapost’s Search Insider Summit. After spending the past nine months attending a number of other events and conferences and indoctrinating myself into this incredible community on behalf of Yieldbot, SIS clearly stood out. The content of the conference encompassed a number of the past, current and future trends of a business that is still incredibly young despite its size both in sheer economics as well as the volume of businesses both big and small that are participating in it. Due to that dynamic combination of youth and size there are many exciting new things emerging as bright entrepreneurs with new ideas and the existing industry behemoths continue to innovate and bring new methodologies, technologies and ideas to the table.
So first a brief outline of a couple of the new opportunities discussed that were most interesting and then a dive into what was so obviously missing from the dialogue.
Creative – if there was one direction and point on which it seemed almost all of these experts agreed it was that new creative formats, creative technologies, creative optimization methodologies will continue to be at the forefront of the industry’s innovation. As GYB (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and the other “traditional” platforms continue to experiment and innovate with SERPs that are more dynamic and visually pleasing for the dual purposes of better engagement and the ability to attract more dollars from brands with higher levels of concern about image, there are interesting companies well represented that are doing cool stuff to leverage this need. One that comes to mind is Datapop a real technology innovator in this space. Then there is the simple blocking and tackling of better text copy optimization being tackled by folks like BoostCTR less a technology and more a time saving method for the drudgery of copy testing.
New Platforms – the other area where much of the most interesting discussions took place and where the opportunities for industry growth seem most fertile were in new platforms. Everything from increasing growth of mobile and tablet search and its different nuances from desktop to the coming of more vertical search encompassed by Yelp, Amazon and others (surprisingly none of which were represented at SIS with the exception of the very cool Intent Media but were much talked about.) Even really cool (but maybe a little scary from a privacy perspective) technologies like visual search from Xbox were hot topics. These new platforms create new markets and new audiences on top of which the best practices of the search industry are being built and their rapid growth is representative of their promise
And now the missing…
It was never clearer to me than at this great conference that content publishers (not to be confused with eCommerce publishers) are such a glaring afterthought to the leading innovators of the most successful and impactful part of the digital advertising industry… the search community. There was not a content publisher in the room nor was there a mention of one on the stage (except briefly by me). Yet, I bet that if asked in a vacuum (and I did a bit of asking) that most of this talented group knows that premium content publishers are hardcore SEO buffs, often times buy Paid Search and are sitting on a treasure trove of first party data. When properly harvested (as we do at Yieldbot) this data can illuminate the “search-like” behaviors of web visitors in their sessions. Selling these visitors’ premium publisher intent in the currency of keywords to the very marketers that makeup the search ecosystem (that was so well represented at SIS) represents an enormous opportunity for market expansion. Not just for those publishers to access search budgets but also for search marketers to find new ways pin pointing the user that they want in real time as they are expressing interest in a specific category. Utilization of this real time data can (and does) yield in some cases results even better than traditional search itself all over the marketing funnel (from branding to conversion).
We heard and talked about the utilization of third party search data and third party site visitation in marketers’ and eCommerce platforms as a new data set for the search marketplace to leverage its methodologies in buying performance media. There is no question that there is a place for that and some have done quite well. But nowhere in this paradigm is the use of FIRST PARTY DATA in REAL TIME within publisher content to make ad decisions on the same pubs from which that data is harvested being mentioned. In this paradigm the publishers can participate at the very least on par in the search (and performance) digital marketplace like all these old and new search platforms that marketers know and want more of.
So in the vain of a good search creative call to action we say: Come talk to us, content publishers!!!!!! And next Search Insider Summit join the conversation and participate in the marketplace that our friend Murthy from Adchemy proclaimed was (to paraphrase) the dawn of a new era in search the most successful (digital) advertising platform ever. You can and should be a major voice in that room.