We asked some of The Search Agents to cast their predictions for the developments, opportunities and trends that will most impact online marketing in 2011. Here are their thoughts:
Keith Wilson, VP, Business Intelligence
In 2011, online marketers will be scrambling to educate themselves on the impact of the FTC’s decision regarding “Do Not Track” technology. Consumers will welcome the recommendation. The outcome of the decision will strongly point to regulation in subsequent years. The decision will also greatly impact the customization of web experiences, including location-based services used on mobile devices.
Bradd Libby, Manager, AdMax R&D
It’s an AdWords’ bug that humans are so deep into keywords, ad copy and bids. This is inefficient, unsustainable and undesirable. Soon, PPC marketers will troubleshoot problems and set ‘big dials’, but let machines do the dirty work- expect downsizing then. In few other industries does knowledge obsolesce so quickly.
Grant Simmons, Group Account Director
Passive search. Finding when you’re not looking. The Minority Report scenario when you are ID’d by your location-aware phone, credit card or behavior (in Minority Report case, your iris) and are served results based on an awareness of who you are, what you like and how you like it. In Minority Report The Gap recommends some tank tops based on buying patterns and preferences http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITjsb22-EwQ. I see people being less concerned with personal ‘privacy’ and willing to share data in an effort to have a better Internet experience — more personalized and more relevant.
Ben Gibson, Managing Director – UK Office
Legislation in some key areas will create some new challenges in 2011. There is increasing scrutiny of data use and data protection, and following on from the EU’s strategy document on strengthening EU data protection, this year the Commission will deliver recommendations for a new general legal framework; one part of this is a focus on how to cope with data security in the new world of social media. Additionally, there is a new focus on cookies when the Citizens Rights Directive starts working in May 2011. This in turn creates a number of challenges, notable for the blossoming re-targeting market. Guidance on this law is due very soon, necessary as the question of how consent on cookies is achieved remains unclear. This could be challenging; the EU has taken a stricter line than some member states in the area of online data and privacy protection, for example pursuing the UK for their inaction against BT and Phorm.
Data is at the heart of online; better-targeted information benefits consumers by delivering more relevant content, whilst accurately collected data combined with smartly implemented actions delivers strong returns for advertisers. Data and privacy protection are a basic right, but it would be a shame if over-zealous legislators impeded practices that help both consumers and advertisers.
Barbara Palmer, President
I believe that mobile will be the biggest thing of 2011 – changing how we search, shop, find, and interact. It had huge growth this year, but in terms of marketers truly designing, building and maximizing the mobile experience for their consumers, we have yet to see what is possible.
David Hughes, CEO
The melding of local and social aspects into search will drive profound changes not only to the mobile marketplace, which has finally reached the inflection point, but also for traditional search.
Kate Shaw, Social Media
I believe that search will become increasingly social. Gone are the days of one-dimensional search. Now, search engines will head towards becoming decision engines by pulling from human selections over algorithmic selections. We will see greater emphasis and thus placement on sites, videos, photos, and information, which has gained social interaction (signifying social approval). This will become an integral part of the search algorithm.
Frank Lee, Senior Vice President, Agency Strategy
I think marketers will make a greater investment in mobile. In addition to greater percentage of budgets, marketers will be investing into the consumer experience for mobile (app development and the mobile web). If they are driving more traffic via mobile advertising, a complementary mobile web experience will be critical to success.
Alec Green, VP Marketing
Google will acquire a relatively unknown group buying site, and integrate the coupon model into the search results. Maybe Google will only display the coupon offers on local searches, or include a prominent advertisement of the “daily deal” in all Gmail accounts in that geography. Google could also easily make these deals keyword-based and open them up to all searchers around the country. So national and online retailers could get into the group buying game by paying a premium CPC to secure the daily deal for their top keywords. In return, they would secure top position and a more eye-catching listing within the search results. These special offers will further push the organic listings down the page, putting increasing pressure on SEOs to fight for the top 2 or 3 listings. Bing could follow a similar model and, with their integration with Facebook, also be able to show which of your friends have already bought in.
Caragh McKenna, Senior Manager, SEO
I think the major changes in 2011 will see Google and “BingHoo” go head to head in the Social Media Space. Although, I think this space is likely to become more than just a Social Media space as we have known it to date. We have seen all of the Search Engines increasingly encouraging their users to stay within one environment for all their needs. Bing appears to be doing this with greater success at the moment with the Facebook/Bing relationship. However, with Google increasingly investing in Chrome (Mobile and Chrome Apps), and with You Tube being the second largest Search Engine in the market, I’d see something major being launched to tie these properties together in space that offers more than networking amongst friends and fully integrates Mobile. No doubt Bing will be working double time to ensure they are on top of this space, so perhaps we will finally see some head-to-head competition that moves away from the traditional search engine environment to something that gives the user so much more.
David Carrillo, Creative Editor, SEO
2011 will be the year that the crème de la crème of SEOs rise to the top. Combine ever-increasing smart phone penetration with evolving SERPs, the continued rise of social media, and what I predict will be a strong year for tablets and Internet connected TV, and the need for SEO strategies that go beyond the status quo is more crucial than ever. If the people heading up your SEO efforts aren’t keeping pace, it may be time to leave them behind.
Mike Jarvinen, VP, Marketing Strategy
I predict we see a surge of energy around the analytics providers (Google Analytics, Omniture, Coremetrics, etc.) with more integrated data, apps and features that make them even more imperative for tracking and comparing marketing initiatives.
Richard Scaglione, SEO Specialist, Architecture
Bing will step up their game in overall search and be more of a competitor to Google. They will fine tune their algorithm and produce more relevant results. I also think that Google will move their ads to the left side of the SERP’s, and here’s how they can do it without being too disruptive. Now that they provide Instant Previews you will notice that the “flyouts” cover their ads to the right. This will give them a valid excuse to move their ads to the left because their current ads are being covered up. This in turn will affect SEO click-through rates directly because the ads will be more visible and probably have a higher click-through rate than they do now. I personally believe that Google has had this in mind all along, but rather than just do it without explanation, the Instant Previews give them a great excuse to do it in 2011. This year we saw Google get heavily involved in the comparison-shopping verticals and really hurt companies in that space. I think Google will continue to take-over different verticals as they see fit.
As far as the Basics of SEO, I think that most on-page variables will stay the same as well as architecture (which is usually pretty constant), but I think Google will get better at spotting paid links and the linking game will be evaluated differently than it is today.
Leave a comment and let us know what new trend we’ll all be buzzing about in 2011.