Evening Forum with Danny Sullivan

Mar 1, 2006 - 9:27 pm 0 by

This session always is an interesting one, since the audience decides the content of the session based on questions asked of SES organizer Danny Sullivan. Danny introduces himself and welcomes everyone to the session. Lets people know that there is no agenda, and any topic is good.

Q: Do you feel that the engines in the last session (Future of Search) were avoiding clear answers? It’s hard…I thought some were great answers. Barry Diller runs IAC, so he can get away with saying stuff. Part of things are that they are trying to stay on the same side of things. He doubts they’ll say “click fraud is terrible…we’re going down!” Did people enjoy it? (not many hands) Want to see more fireworks? (lots of hands) He feels that that type of session worked best with the Search Marketers in Chicago, since they can say what they want. He used to do keynotes in 2003, and got away from them for a little, and now wnet to the roundtable thing. Perhaps he will do a combo of SE executives and marketers and see what happens.

Q: What effect is search going to have on traditional ad agencies? Hard to say since he isn’t an expert on traditional ad agencies. He would love to have some time to get around and speak w/traditional ad agencies. They, to him, have traditionally been more about the message but not the actual purchase. Since SEM’s can measure everything, it is more accepted that this type of advertising will deliver better metrics. He has thought about SES being less solely focused on search…he has had direct response marketers….always felt that SEM’s had a unique feeling that someone somewhere is searching. Maybe SEM’s are becoming metric marketers and the traditional ad agencies are realizing people want this, this will change. I think there are more opportunities than ever before for the traditional agencies to say “we need to be with you.”

Q: He also had a feeling in other sessions that some reps were not answering questions fully. Asked a question about cannibalizing markets…makes a suggestion that there should be a professional gadfly on each panel in order to ask whether the question was answered or not or to call out BS when the question is skirted. He used to put “gadflys” on panels that were SEM’s to “call BS” when needed. Sometimes people simply, no matter what a SEM says, wants an “official response.” For example, the click fraud session has a mix. Maybe he should talk to the moderators about this…Dana Todd speaks up and suggests electric shock prods…(laughs) If vendors are being “salesy,” it should be reported in the evaluation forms. If he finds that the SE’s aren’t being forthcoming enough, he’ll cease those sessions, based on feedback sheets.

Suggestion: Too many good sessions at the same time. Wants to have videos available from other sessions. In some cases, he cannot give the slides…like Google who considers slides to be confidential. The session PowerPoint’s that are available are listed in the handbook too. Was thinking about getting rid of the booklets and giving content in each session (crowd doesn’t want this). Everyone wants audio files, when the room is polled. (c’mon Danny I am waiting for you to mention the SER blog here) Would you prefer a CD Rom? Mostly no’s. Someone asks if the slides could be made available beforehand…Danny says he may work that out. Someone else suggests that if Google doesn’t want to make their slides available, then they can’t speak. Danny asks about if people would rather have Matt Cutts not speak since his PR dept makes slides unavailable. Guess how many said yes to that…

Suggestion: setup a Linkedin group and see if people could network prior to the sessions. Danny suggest SEW forums, which always has threads prior to a show.

Q: Client side in SEM…this seems to be an industry made up of small organizations. The SEMPO outlook for 2006 seems to say many people are going in house? Danny feels that an increasing number of people do in-house. Now they are working with an in-house track, panels, etc… About half the people in the room claim to be completely in house. As for the smaller companies…Danny spoke to a gentleman at lunch that has a budget of 5-10K. He won’t be going to iProspect…but he won’t probably get the same results.

Q: We have a group of industry leaders to build a SE in the Real Estate vertical, what should we be looking for? First nobody notices you…then you’ll say you’re the Google of real estate, which makes me want to puke (laughs). Seriously, you should look for people that are blogging about this area, commenting on real estate search since the early stages. They will be especially important because they can give some great advice…this is what he would recommend.

Q: How come it’s called Search Engine Strategies instead of Search and Online Marketing Strategies? Because. Asks how many people want it to be the suggestion…no hands rise. Poor Aussie…

Q: Fairly new to whole search thing…has a basic understanding….speaking strictly from a SEO standpoint….if he brings someone from ranking #50,099 to #24, then what is the point? True…you have to be on the top two pages. Mentions that SEMPO.org has some good info about how far into the results people usually search.

Q: Works for an agency in NY that has to use Flash….what is the industry doing to make flash readable? There are work-arounds. Use it sparingly, try not to place it on every page, etc…He compares it to producing a TV ad that is completely silent, and then trying to use it on the radio. (nice analogy) Asks for others to shout out a solution. A shout comes from one end of the room “CLOAK IT!” (laughs) funny some of the models on seoangels.com happen to be right were the shout came from.

Actually podcasting some sessions from this week, by the way (probably on webmasterradio.fm)

Q: Where do you see the industry going in the next 2-3 years? He feels 5 different players will be strong…doesn’t know if one will drop off. (G, Y, MSN, Ask, and AOL) Those five are there, whether one will drop to 1% region, is uncertain, but he could see that happening. Will continue to be complicated, will be harder because us as SEM’s will be confronted by other advertising we are not familiar with. Thinks things will still be more expensive doesn’t feel that the real value of search has been reached yet. Feels that maybe some money will be taken from TV, and that the other forms of media will have to adjust to this. Will continue to see Matt Cutts and “the Cuttlets” (lots of laughs)…says that shows true “obsession with web search.” When we have a session on local, no one really mobs the local person, yet this is growing…verticals are crucial. He feels that search will be flipped, and that you’ll get local results without using the local button.

Q: If relevancy rules, who is putting in the man hours? Ask has very good technology…if I had been Bill Gates I would have bought them. Having said that…cannot discount MSN since they will go at it the Microsoft way. Easier to say that Google is doing so many things that he sometimes feels they aren’t doing enough on search. Hard because they all change so quickly. It’s a horse race that is too close to tell at this point. Plus, it’s not that he feels that any of them are going away even if they have “a bad season.”

Q: Do you foresee in the near future that one of the major SE’s might go too far and lose trust…polluted and diluted? He has noticed the G ads a lot more, but the SE’s have learned that this doesn’t work. Ask used to present 10 sponsored results, Lycos was the same way. They have learned that this isn’t the right thing to do.

Q: What is the focus of the SES world tour, and what percentage of US speakers will be featured? Most shows feature an umber of native speakers. There are some great speakers in each of the countries. German conference is done “auf Deutsch.” Japanese show is more vendor-driven with a lower cost and just a few sessions. Some have asked about having more country specific sessions here, but those haven’t worked well. Latino show will be good…they wanted to name it that instead of the Miami show. Sweden and France will be good too.

That’s all…

This is part of the Search Engine Roundtable Blog coverage of the New York Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2006. For other SES topics covered, please visit the Roundtable SES NYC 2006 category archives.



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