Orion Panel: Universal Search

Mar 18, 2008 • 3:15 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2008 New York
 

Search result multiplicity is not a new phenomenon, but recent advancements will guarantee the world of search and marketing will be changing forever. Hear from industry gurus about how search, marketing and information seeking is changing the industry that follows the search. Our ongoing series on universal search includes research data available only at SES.

Orion%20Panel.jpg

Moderators: • Kevin Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch • Mike Grehan, Global KDM Officer, Acronym Media Speakers: • John Battelle, Founder/Chairman/CEO, Federated Media • James Lamberti, Senior Vice President, Search and Media, comScore, Inc • Lyndsay Menzies, Managing Director, Big Mouth Media • Jack Menzel, PM for Universal Search, Google

Kevin Ryan:

Welcome to the 3rd in a series of discussions about universal search. The Orion sessions are engineered to give you a very high level overview. I want everyone here to have a better understanding about what’s happening with search, what the real impact is. Can we get beyond the hype and the BS of what’s appearing in the press? James has data he will show you that hasn’t appeared anywhere else and it’s the first time anyone n the world is seeing this info.

(All panelists introduce themselves)

James:

We are a company that maintains a research panel of 2 million around the world. What we’ve done is essentially taken our search data stream and learned to recognize all the data. Then we took all the queries on Google and divided them into video, news, maps, weather, stocks, and flagged each as universal search, then looked at a bunch of data. This data is in its very early stages.

Starting at the top: 3 bars of data. Total search queries at Google, total clicks, and total paid clicks. In terms of value, this week we tracked 1.2 billion queries in the US, 220 million of which contained a universal qualifier.

What I was most shocked about was the volume of queries.

Going a step further, let’s look at the penetration.

In a given week, 87 million people searched Google, 58% saw some sort of universal result on the page, and 22% saw any universal link, and 15% saw multiple links – this is interesting because it represents results that had more than one of the universal results present. This suggests that Google is very targeted in what they are showing to users. It seems Google is being very siloed in what they are doing. This is not necessary a negative thing, we’[ve trained the consumer to integrate and react to blue box text links. Search is one of the building blocks of the internet showing phenomenal growth (vs. email, IM etc).

The next slide shows the percentage of people at Google that were presented with a video, news, image results, vs. the share of overall queries in those various buckets. What’s happening is that the intensity of searches per searchers is much higher in news and video than in other areas. So Google can create a great experience for the user. Finally the last 2 slides shows the average Google search session, which we baselined at 100. The bars represent how different result sets compare to that baseline. So when you have no universal search, you have 101, and as you go down the chart, getting more and more towards a pure universal experience (stock search etc), the interaction with the page for the consumer changes. They are not clicking as often. This is an indication of what’s to come and what will present a challenge in the industry since the start of the search phenomenon. The light blue bars show specifically paid click performance. With no universal qualifier, the # is 104. This data has two major implications: 1. Organic search is becoming increasingly critical – search results pages are becoming a destination. technology and content will now supersede marketing. The inherent “view thru” situation will challenge measurements. 2. Paid search will become more competitive. Fewer paid click options on fewer pages, consumers will be in control - not the marketer, and conversion rates should increase.

A couple of final data points: for marketers this is a huge challenge. The growth rate of search shows more added growth in the US market in 2007, over 2006 - 52 queries per month per user, up to 74 per month per user.

As marketers, we need to take advantage of the content, make sure the inventory of images etc. are set up properly to be captured by the engines. If you come up with a better result than is on You Tube, people will click on it

[Some back and for the commenting on the presentation]

Kevin :

How many people in the audience are concerned with universal search or blended search results and are taking that into consideration when optimizing? Of those, how many feel like they’ve been attaining success?

Lindsay:

I think there are many opportunities. There is a branding component you need to add to search.

James:

Just because we measure search doesn’t mean that’s the only consumer value it possesses. In the past 2 years I spent 50-70% of my day consulting on the view-thru value of search. Consumer behavior is way too valuable.

Lindsay:

I think there is a massive shift to get from the mindset of ROI to branding.

John:

If you are a branding person who wants to make sure the ad is seen, when you get to the complexities of the universal search interface..when you show this data – if you are Google, and you see that you are indexing lower in paid clicks by 17% and just got hammered by wall street for 2 or 3 quarters, there has got to be some hesitation.

Jack (from Google):

Have you just seen Jame’s data! Because we are comparing a very large broad segment of the long tail we are going to see differences…I am surprised to see that you can make the claim that universal has a lower index.

James:

Isn’t the goal to create an experience, where you know the consumer so well because you have a history of what they’ve done? It’s more about personalization.

Jack:

Yes, to a certain extent. But at its core, the Google search engine results pages are still about getting users the info they want. To be realistic - we will be diverting traffic.

Mike:

How many people in the audience are doing SEO on the organic side? It’s all about writing the great compelling title tag!

John:

We have lived and had great benefit – and Google is the greatest benefactor of all – in a text driven world! Text is easily processed by machines. When you have images, and video, you are changing the game in a really big way! How the industry monetizes and how the consumer behaves. That’s why Google bought You Tube, and is focusing on You Tube.

Jack:

The reason You Tube shows up so often is because they contain a lot of the videos on the net. Changing the click model for putting images and video on the page – we don’t believe we are changing the model so much. These images are satisfying and they get a lot of clicks.

Kevin:

Let’s talk about the You Tube content – most of it is crap! What’s the shelf life of this content!

John:

I was moderating a panel recently and on the panel was Damon Wayans. His new venture is Way Out TV, in partnership with You Tube and he said his entire deal terms right there on the panel! And one of the things he was guaranteed was 16 million impressions on the home page! Does that guarantee Google results? I’m curious because they give him guaranteed attention and anyone who has been in the industry for a long time knows about such deals. I worry about how that might get into the search stream.

Kevin:

Is it possible we will start to see his site get really popular?

John:

When did we have our big paid inclusion debate – 5, 6 years ago – and all of us that had been using it were really double-minded about it – on one hand, good channel, but a lot of people were getting outted for doing it. I think there is something similar with media and distribution and will be a lot of fights.

It’s interesting now when you put in stocks Google Finance comes in first – is there an algorithm for this?

Jack:

We do include links to the other finance firms.

John:

It used to be Yahoo was first but not anymore!

Jack:

We do use 3rd party objective---

John:

So publish in open source and let us see them!!

James:

As long as I am on a panel with Google I know I am safe!!

Kevin:

Obviously that will never get published. Algorithm is just a really cool word for “math problem”, and it’s not.

Jack:

We try to promote ourselves in a way that is fair and we will present the top results for a query and we try to be as relevant as possible and not biased to ourselves.

John:

You guys are becoming a media company and let’s just call it that. You are building it slowly but it’s not in your DNA to be in brand and display like Microsoft – but you have all these media properties now! That look an awful lot like the anti-portal – and yet, you have this visage of the brand that is indifferent to where you go next. I think there is going to become a conflict at some point. When you click on any of the search links directly on the clean Google homepage, like News, bam – it looks just like a destination site like Yahoo!

Kevin:

They are in the media business! They try to engage advertisers in a friendly way. It’s all coming full circle – but coming back to the universal component you are creating now instead of search driving to a destination, you now ARE the destination!

Jack:

Let me reiterate - we are trying to rank only the most relevant stuff – and if it happens to be on You Tube it will be on the list! There is nothing in the algorithms that are inherently biasing the results to Google.

Mike:

I think by virtue of the fact that you are introducing new things and technology, people cannot stay on the page, that’s a destination site to me!

Jack: But we are trying to get people to the destination as fast as possible.

John:

“Capturing a second click” is how I put it on my blog. It’s interesting that Google is trying to monetize on this. If you are sitting there watching the search stream – which I’d really love to do if you want to invite me in to Google some time – you can maybe see if there is a way to make a better experience. Then again if it all ends up working, you are going to capture that click.

Jack:

(Explains Knoll – like Wikipedia, trying to publish expert-driven, not community-driven info).

Kevin:

What defines an “expert”? I mean Wikipedia is being exploited commercially, it’s pathetic in my opinion – but what are qualifications for an expert and how will you manage that?

Jack:

I don’t really deal with Knoll – but I believe you know who’s writing the article, you have an indication, and I don’t believe we are establishing set criteria

Kevin:

So there are no qualifications to being an expert!!!

This outstanding coverage was provided by Sheara Wilensky of Promedia Corp.

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