SearchTHIS: All That’s Search for the New Year

It’s a brand new year. I’ve got a new job, a new domicile, and a whole new perspective. I am ready for the trials and tribulations yet to come, sort of. January is typically the time for those of us in the business of the advertising to get up and get going after a few weeks of holiday lull.

Here’s an update on my “lull.” My worldly goods arrived in New York City unscathed, my car was unceremoniously delivered to a warehouse in New Jersey by accident and no one, not even the moving company, has any idea where my motorcycle is and I just don’t feel like I can move on without it. As the old saying goes, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it and I wouldn’t want that to happen to any of you. 

So before we jump headlong into the new year, here’s a look back at 2004 and the hottest search topics we covered at iMedia according to a complex ranking engine I developed exclusively for this task. The ranking system is a combination of popularity ranks and overall keyword positioning. The algorithmic sequences of said ranking system I will carry to my grave but, if you want to buy your way into my ranking engine, you can bid for position starting at $50 a click.

A whole new way to define IPO

It seemed every search engine marketing journal, Web posting, blog entry, or expert opinion centered around Google going public in 2004. For a while there it didn’t seem like the whole thing would happen.

There were lawsuits pending, the company seemed quite content with maintaining its private identity, and before anyone knew it a new and different way for a search firm to head out into public opinion was introduced. Whodathunkit?

In the process I accidentally introduced a new way to describe “IPO” for search that started popping up all over -- sometimes credited, sometimes not. I look at it this way; at least I know who’s reading my stuff.

Believe in your people, share information, treat the world with care and grace. Searchers of the world unite! And then the shareholders got involved.

Read the article here.

The year of local hype?

The Kelsey Group’s Greg Sterling helped us out with a little local intelligence last May. Of course one or two prognostications about the Google IPO were in order, but once all the IPO hype died down, the search world needed a new focal point. Local was the way to go.

In 2004, Google and Overture introduced local products that may or may not have hit the high points of user need. In the end, Internet yellow pages tried to become search engines and pay per click search engines tried to engineer an efficient phone book like existence.

2004 opened the arguments on geographically relevant search, but the user jury is still deliberating on who will hold sway over the local space in 2005 and beyond.

Read the article here.

A funny thing happened to me when …

Industry trade show lesson one: If you aren’t attending at least one AD:TECH per year, you are missing out on essential intelligence in online marketing. Having said that, much knowledge was offered in the few sessions on search last June in San Francisco.

We talked about brand and search long before the big industry studies were released. Big developments in research from big brands and how they used search were introduced and for the first time that I can remember, key phrase selection and the buying funnel were finally discussed in an intelligent, practical format.

Later in the year AD:TECH got serious with search and the lesson here is clear: buy the tickets, stay for the entire show, and go for the sessions not just the trade show floor.

Read the article here.

Retailing search

Although we as search marketers spend a great deal of time hawking the top categories, far less frequently we illustrate the train wrecks search marketers should avoid while pursuing, oh, let’s say an online retail situation.

Well, that’s exactly what Hollis Thomases of did. In a profile of “what not to do” with search and etail, she showed us the good, bad and very ugly mistakes to avoid when selling your widgets with search as a sales and marketing tool.

Bring searchers in that will actually make a purchase and search marketing will be etail friendly.

Read the article here.

The day the search music died

My love of charts and graphs to align data from searchmas past came to life in a look at where search should go, where it has been and what it needs to do to move forward. Of course all of this comes with a little help from the IAB’s annual data release.

What do we do, and where do we go from here? Search saw unprecedented growth in the past year or two, but to think this growth would continue at such a high rate would be childish and more than slightly foolish.

Read the article here.

Hey search, grow up will ya?

Speaking of kid’s stuff, Bob Heyman of Mediasmith, Inc. offered a very quotable perspective on what search needs to do to grow up and take a seat at the adult’s table while many of us are still waiting for online advertising to do just that.

We spend entirely too much time “buying the same old keywords,” Heyman said. The world awaits a better way to integrate search, and I for one, would like a get up from the kiddie table as well.

Read the article here.

Packaged goods and search

Consumers often make decisions that marketers don’t necessarily like or decisions product manufacturers never intended for them to make. Marketers have a choice. They can embrace consumer behavior or they can try to fight it.

Understanding user behavior is but one of the keys needed to unlock the secrets of packaged goods in search. Although CPGs aren’t much of a category killer online, search can be a very effective tool for marketers online.

Read the article -- Part One and Part Two.
Bring offline brain power online

There are a lot of smart people in search marketing, and many of those smart people are writing for iMedia. Matt Naeger, of IMPAQT is no exception.

Naeger wrote about how customer knowledge can be used to apply a higher level of science to search. And therein lies the answer to discovering something beyond what is immediately placed before your nose -- understanding data is a multidimensional experience.

Read the article here.

 I got yer local sesame chicken

There’s marketing information, you see, and then there’s trying-to-feed-the-masses information. Something wonderful happens when you graduate beyond the press releases and really try to use some of the tools that get hyped up in the daily press. In my case, it was trying to find Chinese food at home.

An interesting side note to this story: I offered a challenge to anyone using a local search tool to find a delivery service for Chinese Food in my neighborhood. Of course someone actually found one using, and although the food was awful (another local search problem, answering, “How’s the grub?”), they did, in fact deliver. I am not so big a man that I can’t admit when I am wrong.

Read the article here.

Agencies of the world -- get the shaft!

As the year wound down, it seemed a reality check was in order. In yet another example of the search world needing to “grow up” we witnessed the need for evaluating search relationships, which coincided with my need for new geographic surroundings.

Agencies or search engine marketing firms provide a service that only an unbiased third party can offer. In the Lion King search engine marketing circle of life each SEM animal serves its purpose but when the hyenas try to rule the pride lands, all hell will break loose. 

Read the article here.

Happy new year!

Did I mention my new place has a spectacular view of that area of Manhattan once referred to as the World Trade Center? Every morning I have been getting up, looking out the window to see … yep, they are still gone. Then I dart off to the dining room to make sure the Empire State Building is still there.

It’s still hard to accept the fact those two giant buildings I grew up seeing so far away from the Bronx and later used as my sole navigation point to help me get around in Manhattan are no longer there. But, as I look down into what is now called Ground Zero I can see the elements of new life and new construction emerging from the depths. The area known as Ground Zero will be big again, better, and, more beautiful than ever.

That’s how I’d like to begin the new year, with new hope for growth and development. Maybe this will be the year online marketing begins to show signs of really growing up, not just growing.

P.S. If you happen to notice someone tooling around the tri-state area on a BMW R12 Stiletto with California plates, drop me a line. I’d like to get my two wheels back. 

About the Author: 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.