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SearchTHIS: The Word from SES, Part 1

Kevin M. Ryan
SearchTHIS: The Word from SES, Part 1 Kevin M. Ryan

The Search Engine Strategies returned to New York City last week with a bang as search marketing rocked the New York Hilton with four days of multi-track sessions. Attendees numbering in the thousands had a lot to say about the state of search. The overwhelming message? While search is still young, it is showing signs of growing up.

Of course, there were wild parties (well, wild from the good Catholic boy perspective), loads and loads of free stuff from search providers (frogs, mints, mouse pads), but as is often the case with popular conferences, digging a little deeper into the behind-the-scenes action can shed a bit of light on what is really happening in the biz.

Blogs are all the rage, but how do they work with search? A popular name for search has disappeared from the face of the business and is that a good idea? Why are shopping engines so important? A big business taught us about how to reach out to search, and a new twist on an old tool format has everyone talking.

Overture becomes a memory

Stock up on those Overture tchotske’s. This week, Yahoo! announced the Overture name will disappear forever. In a move possibly sparked by an effort to increase shareholder equity and the perception of product diversification, Overture will now be known as Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions. Yahoo! offered quite the overview of its diversified search marketing offerings in its release:

  • Sponsored Search Listings, the flagship search advertising product

  • Content Match, Yahoo!’s contextual advertising listings

  • Local Match, Yahoo!’s local sponsored search offering

  • Site Match Self Serve and Site Match Xchange, Yahoo!’s search URL submission products

  • Yahoo! Product Submit, the Yahoo! Shopping URL submission program

  • Yahoo! Express, the Yahoo! Directory URL submission program

  • Marketing Console, which enables advertisers to track campaign performance across multiple online channels

  • Search Optimizer, which allows advertisers to improve their campaign performance and reduce the amount of time spent managing their listings

I happen to think this little move is a pretty smart one in the grand scheme of growing up because Yahoo! has a great deal to offer Overture and its constituency, and Wall Street likes diversity. But everyone has their own opinions. Shortly after Yahoo! made the announcement, the popular second-tier search provider FindWhat apparently disagreed with my assessment.

"By bringing Overture under the Yahoo! brand, Yahoo! is further highlighting the manner in which it directly competes with many of Overture's major distribution partners," said Craig Pisaris-Henderson, chairman and chief executive officer of FindWhat.com, Inc. 

Competition? Maybe, but the rate of consolidation (mergers and acquisitions) and segmentation (partners separating from distribution providers) in the business continues to astonish me. Yahoo!’s major syndication partner (MSN) undoubtedly will go its own way in the near future and any perceived conflicts will take a back seat to diversity.

Blogs, search, and PR

There were a few sharp sessions on buzz and its unflinching cousin, public relations. Jupiter Research analyst, Gary Stein, who could be out teaching best practices on how to moderate conferences, led a discussion about using blogs and real-time consumer opinion to harness key information for future advertising initiatives.

Another panel included Search for Profit’s Dr. Amanda Watlington, who suggested that blogs are not only causing a flood of information online but also are challenging the paradigm of passive user queries in forcing a shift to active information flow with technologies such as Really Simple Service (RSS) feed development tools. Watlington suggests the following for achieving success:

  • Plan your blog for power

  • Add fresh, quality content often

  • Give and receive links generously

  • Syndicate widely through feeds

Another panel discussion with SEO PR’s president and co-founder Greg Jarboe included key advice on how to take advantage of rankings in press releases. Jarboe showed how targeting keywords in press release headlines, subheads, links and images could significantly impact the reach of release information. Jarboe also emphasized that while rankings may not be improved with press information, this doesn’t mean revenue will not be affected. He cited an example from Southwest Airlines that generated over $1.9 million in sales.

The pattern here is clear: A specialized sibling industry is rapidly evolving around the phenomenon of quickly available consumer opinion. People want you to know what they think; advertisers and brands want to know what people think, and our internet world will never be the same.

Tomorrow: Shopping engines, big business embraces search, PPC and PHI and more.

iMedia Search Editor Kevin Ryan’s current and former client roster reads like a “who’s who” in big brands; Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. Ryan believes in sound guidance, creative thought, accountable actions and collaborative execution as applied to search, or any form of marketing. His principled approach and staunch commitment to the industry have made him one of the most sought after personalities in online marketing. Ryan volunteers his time with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, and several regional non-profit organizations.

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Maker Studios

The studio behind one of YouTube's most faithfully viewed series, "Epic Rap Battles of History," is an advertiser's dream. Maker Studios boasts more than 15,000 channels, 165 million subscribers, and more than an astounding 3 billion views per month.

The studio has managed to sign YouTube stars like Mike Tompkins, an a cappella sensation, but has also legitimized itself by working with notable mainstream stars like Snoop Dogg and Robert De Niro. The trend of A-list performers appearing on multi-channel network videos (and even YouTube personalities appearing on television) is one that will continue to grow as more and more people stream video online.

Perhaps the most attractive statistic about Maker Studios is who is tuning in. Eight percent of Maker Studios' 210 million unique monthly viewers are in the 13 to 34 age demographic, a very attractive core of Millennials -- potentially long-term brand loyalists.


A recent round of funding and a steadily increasing viewership have FullScreen high in the mix of YouTube's best multi-channel networks. FullScreen offers more than 15,000 YouTube channels, including comedian David So and musician Tyler Ward, 200 million subscribers, and more than 2.5 billion monthly views.

Traditionally, FullScreen has kept its focus on the distribution of videos, enticing personalities with tools that will help them reach a much wider audience. Just like YouTube though, FullScreen is expanding and is planning to increase focus on the actual video production and creation of published works. By working with a studio that provides the resources for video production, brands can have more confidence in how their investment will turn around.

Niche Studios

There are also multi-channel networks that appeal to specific niches, like Machinima for gamers, Tastemade for foodies, and StyleHaul for fashionistas.

Machinima features video game tips, tricks, news, and recently wrapped up "Forward Unto Dawn," the first ever live-action "Halo" series, which was received well overall.

This gaming multi-channel network receives more than 2.2 billion monthly views and more than 7,500 subscribers. However, like Maker Studios, the most interesting statistic is who is actually watching: 25 percent of males between the ages of 18 and 34 who are streaming video online are also watching Machinima. Clear cut data like this are a huge reason why brands are chomping at the bit to get involved with multi-channel networks.

For those hungrily watching videos on YouTube, Tastemade is the food multi-channel network filling everyone's appetite. More than 200,000 subscribers make Tastemade one of the more successful niche studios, achieving more than 18 million views on videos that include recipes, cooking shows, and even travel segments. The future of Tastemade is looking bright: The studio recently closed a round of funding that brought in $10 million!

Also, successfully positioned in the niche market is StyleHaul, a multi-channel network for style, fashion, and beauty. An audience of more than 38 million YouTube viewers has access to 950 fashion-related channels.

Let's take a look at how brands have already participated.

Brands and multi-channel networks

There is plenty of room in this growing space for brands to jump on and be a part of things early. There are also plenty of different ways brands can get involved, including show sponsorships, product placements, and more.

Multi-channel networks can also act as consultants for brands, just how NBC and FullScreen work together. FullScreen provides around the clock management for NBC's hub channel as well as several other NBC channels like "The Tonight Show," "America's Got Talent," and "Revolution." FullScreen also provides NBC with consulting on content for the channels. Besides NBC, FullScreen has also worked with Pepsi, Nintendo, and Ford, among others.

Another way brands can be involved with multi-channel networks is by being present on already established YouTube channels. One great example of this is the pairing of Maker Studios' Mike Tompkins and the Universal Studios film "Pitch Perfect." The a cappella YouTube star promoted the movie about collegiate a cappella in a unique way. His channel sparked excitement for the film by crowdsourcing clips of YouTube fans' a cappella performances and putting them together into one a cappella masterpiece. The video currently has nearly 7 million views, 2.6 million of which were before the movies release, and is a piece of the "Pitch Perfect" DVD bonus features.

In addition, check out Nate Nielsen of New Element Films and his rather strange, highly viral promotion for Pepsi Max. To promote Pepsi's ginseng-filled cola, Nate filled a bathtub with more than 300 cans of Pepsi Max, and as any sane person would do, proceeded to take a bath in it. The video drew more than a million YouTube views, and with Pepsi Max cans, cases, and soda filling the entire screen (and 83 percent likes), it's safe to say Pepsi's product placement was successful.

Future of multi-channel networks

The future of multi-channel networks is looking bright, however, there will be obstacles along its growth. Most immediately, online content creators will have to navigate the choppy waters of redistributing already published content, particularly in the form of cover songs being performed and making profits. Currently, FullScreen is battling a lawsuit filed by the National Music Publishers Association and the outcome will surely set a precedent for future operations in the online space.

On the bright side, YouTube videos are continuing to be watched by massive amounts of people and those numbers are only increasing. Brands and multi-channel networks alike have realized the potential for profit on YouTube, and it will only be a matter of time before a large majority of brands are present in the space.

Multi-channel networks are creating a Hollywood-industry-like feel on YouTube, complete with contracts, stars, and increasing revenue. Undoubtedly, the next few years will tell us a lot about the future of multi-channel networks.

Ian Tenenbaum is the vice president of strategic relationships for Crowdtap.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Businessman using tablet" and "Youtube logo" images via Shutterstock and UK Harp Association.


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