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Themes from the Syndicate conference

Search marketing is being transformed by changes in media and I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Syndicate conference to hear how. After my speech yesterday, I stuck around to hear how the new participatory media is changing the Web and in turn, changing search marketing.


Several strong themes were clear at the conference:

    • The old school of media is under attack. One of the conference tracks was devoted to the battle between the entrenched media giants and “new media.” “The edges of the network now inform the center, rather than the reverse,” says Jonathan Schwartz, COO of Sun Microsystems. Larry Weber, noted author and CEO of W2 Group, predicted that “in five years, we’ll be discussing how the circulation of the Wall Street Journal and the USA dropped under one million.” One of the media giants, Dow Jones (the publisher of the Wall Street Journal), agreed–Senior VP Jessica Perry explained that Dow Jones business is increasingly online, including wsj.com and Factiva.
    • The old PR game is changing, too. Because old media is giving way (in part) to new media, the old corporate game of seeding stories through press releases is changing. Some at the conference question whether press releases need to exist in a world of blogs, while others believe that press releases can be modified to be search-friendly and distributed using blogs, RSS, and other new forms that come along.
    • And the change in new media popularity is just beginning. Just 4% of Web users are using blog readers today, so what about the other 94%? Scott Gatz of Yahoo! reports that “27% of Web users read RSS feeds, but don’t know it,” which looks like the way to expand usage. Microsoft is continuing this trend, enabling Internet Explorer 7 to be a simple blog reader, but Outlook 2006 will offer blogs as folders in your Outlook e-mail, which could be very powerful. Similarly, Gantz showed a beta version of Yahoo! Mail with similar capabilities based on an Ajax approach. Windows Live is built around search and RSS.
    • And the technology is evolving to be even more powerful. Marc Canter led a large consortium of companies in the Structured Blogging announcement, where new “types” (similar in DTDs in content management) of blog entries, such as “events” and “reviews,” complete with support in WordPress and Movable Type, two popular blogging packages. Marc is predicting the emergence of compound feeds that combine data from multiple sources, combined with filters to help readers give attention to what they are interested in. These technologies are critical in a world where there are already 20 million feeds and the number is doubling every few months. Chris Redlitz, the President of Feedster, says “RSS will be used far more ubiquitously to distributed any time-sensitive information.”
    • Tagging must evolve as well. Social tagging, as found on del.icio.us (just purchased by Yahoo!) is growing but experts doubt its ability to scale to solve the filtering problem. Elizabeth Lawley, a Researcher at Microsoft, says their research shows that people are more likely to make a Post-it note than to bookmark something, so only a very few people are willing to tag content—those people that do may be very different from the rest of us. Lawley believes we will see more human filtered searches—not based on your friends but based on trusted sources you identify.

How does this affect search marketing? Debby Richman, a Senior VP at LookSmart, believes that “We are following the same progression that TV followed to cable—marketers can target demographics that have different interests—it’s inevitable that this will happen” in a broad way. “Search will become more personalized,” says Technorati’s Community Manager Niall Kennedy, “and will even help you find friends based on what your interests are.” Adds PubSub’s Salim Ismail, “Retrospective search is gradually giving way to alerts when something new arrives that matches your interests.” Yahoo!’s Gantz sees the benefits of RSS moving from efficiency to relevance (you can see the search tie-in there), and becoming more social (incorporating social tagging into search and other discovery methods). Richman summed up the biggest impact on search by saying that “Search needs to stay agnostic and index whatever form of information is out there.” As the content on the Web changes, search marketing will as well.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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