I asked a few of The Search Agents to try predicting the biggest opportunities, newest developments and craziest ideas that would impact online marketing in 2010. Here are their thoughts:
Barbara Palmer, President
I think Google’s continued advancement into all things online toward total domination is always the ‘I’m not surprised’ moment and will continue into the new year. They seem to just go where they want, do what they want, entering into areas where they compete with their own customers and stake out their territory. As interesting: the rest of the market’s reaction – namely, the BingHoo! deal which will really start to take shape in the new year. Can their joined forces truly take on Google as viable competition? Can the new company be larger than its individual parts? Have they made the right decisions in terms of programs that are discontinued (SSP) and those that live on? It promises to be an interesting ride.
Steve Levitt, Sr. VP Business Development
I would say conversion attribution and de-duplication across channels. Many direct response advertisers have multiple channels that create interest and customers find their ways to a “conversion” after exposure to multiple types of media. Depending on how conversion timeframe windows are set, more than one media channel may claim credit for a conversion. As such, being able to de-dupe these claims and attribute the conversion to a specific channel, and potentially fractionally attribute it to other channels, will become a strategic ability for DRTV marketers and online marketers as a whole.
Alec Green, VP Marketing
2010 will be the year in which social networking sites embrace the “wisdom of crowds” as a viable revenue model. A number of niche social networking sites have already begun harvesting their user-generated content and selling de-identified analyses to third parties. For example, Sermo, a social networking site for physicians, generates revenue from pharmaceutical companies and investment bankers willing to pay top dollar to eavesdrop on members’ conversations about the effectiveness of new therapies.
Facebook is sitting on a treasure trove of customer insight, virtually all of it out of the purview of brand managers and market researchers. If more social networking sites can find a way to synthesize and deliver this data to marketers in near real time (without alienating their users), the days of costly telephone surveys and in-person focus groups could be a thing of the past.
Rick Egan, Sr. Director, Search Engine Optimization & Social Media Services
The two big ones from a search perspective for 2010 will likely be BingHoo and Google Caffeine and how those two will change the landscape of search. Google is just starting to roll out some results with Twitter integrated. I am sure it will get better, but right now when you do a search for “Christmas Presents” and get profanity in the Twitter stream something tells me that Google may not have made the best decision. Google Caffeine will be a change to the Google Algorithm and is likely to change their reliance on links as a factor in how they determine rankings. The early hints they are giving are that factors such as page load times and site crawl rates are going to factor in to how they score pages. They have also been clear to say social media is going to be important but have left it open for interpretation on how it will affect rankings. My assumption is that how people are talking about a site in social media is going to be a relevant factor. The Bing Yahoo deal is likely to be the other big thing in 2010 assuming they get regulatory approval. This deal will consolidate search into two main players and help give search marketers like ourselves some good opportunities for setting up unique strategies for each channel.
Grant Simmons, Director, Project / Account Management, SEO
Google’s cookie for search personalization will, in addition, track onsite behavior across the net, and leverage that data to focus their algorithm to consider site interaction, availabilty and stickiness as integral parts of their ranking factors. Site owners will need to react, implementing best practices in usabilty and monitoring granular engagement metrics as integral parts of their SEO efforts.
Mike Solomon, Sr. Director, Performance Marketing
I am really watching Google to see what happens as they make several moves that could potentially put them in a competitive situation with advertisers. The most obvious beta they are testing is comparison ads for terms like mortgages. This is a much different stance than being a pure search platform, now they are getting into lead aggregation which will impact several advertisers that have been paying them millions of dollars over the past few years. No prediction, but I think this will be a very precarious line to walk for them.
Ben Gibson, Managing Director U.K.
Augmented Reality looks like it will be a strong growth area in 2010 – AR being the enhancement of one’s physical environment by virtual effects, such as Google’s Goggles, allowing you to take a photo of a famous monument, and then find supplementary information on it, or Tesco’s store app for the iPhone which not only tells you which store you can find products in, but where in the shelves to find it. Jupiter research has predicted that by 2014 it will deliver $732m in revenues. Combining physical locations with targeted advertising is a powerful proposition; Best Buy have already started to use AR by highlighting nearby stores to users of iPhone and Android handsets.
Drew Hubbard, Director, Promotions & Social Media
As search continues to evolve toward crowd-sourced solutions like Google’s recent and arguably poorly-planned decision to add Twitter results to SERPs, I am interested to watch search and social media converge.
Don’t wait until the year is halfway over to say, “I knew that was going to happen!” Share with us your predictions for the biggest developments in 2010.