The Search Insider Summit (SIS) conference is an opportunity for brands and digital experts to collaborate in a relaxed atmosphere, with informative and entertaining panels, keynotes and product presentations. This year, I attended as a speaker for the panel, "Social Search Engine Optimization and Search 3.0".
When I attend events, I don't normally go with the expectation of learning, though I do generally return with a few nuggets of information. SIS was no exception:
1) Brands love Product Listing Ads (PLAs) - Most brands saw dramatic increases in click-throughs and sales, though some saw challenges in bid optimization and understanding of PLA ranking algorithm. Williams Sonoma brought up a specific case where a $4,000 set of pots and pans showed up for a generic search on "all clad cookware", noting that probably wasn't a great connection of search intent to product selection intent. Google's panelist noted that there may be some other criteria at play.
2) Speaking of search engines, a very informative panel of Google, Yahoo & Bing folks led by BIA/Kelsey's Rick Ducey gave great insight into some of the (current trends and) future of search, with most highlighting mobile devices as key strategies, and all talking of "context" and "intent" as being key drivers of improved relevance of results. Joan Arensman of Google drove most of the discussion, but as a fellow attendee said, based on their market share, they probably should have had 70% of the stage. :-)
Jason Dailey of Bing and I chatted at the round table immediately following the panel presentation, discussing platforms vs. intent and how context relates to both.
3) Privacy was one of the bigger talking points. With logged-in users, hidden (by search engines) data and ongoing legal concerns, search engine representatives agreed that privacy is a short term problem and, in the longer term, no-one will really care. This was based on benefits being greater than any perceived privacy concerns - with the caveat of real, recognized and realistic benefits.
4) Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. It's the year of mobile...again. At least from an advertiser standpoint. Many panels and speakers talked about how mobile means a better understanding of the immediacy of intent and a better controlled environment, as mobile user experience is often more focused with less buttons and choices. Michelle Evans of Ruby Tuesday restaurant group doesn't even send mobile users to their primary website anymore because they get much better engagement and results through mobile-only experiences.
5) Big data reared it's head many time. Leading to one of my tweets that noted:
It really was a polarizing topic with some folks noting it's over use, others saying it's a business necessity, and others waxing about the future *mandates* big data management, aggregation and actionable insights
And finally, I can't succinctly put into words the great folks that attend and the many conversations I have with large consumer brands, data providers, tool platforms and search marketing folks. No matter how good a conference's agenda may be the attendees are often a great source of industry, marketplace and trend insights. I spoke to Larry Kim of Wordstream - probably the smartest guy there - and Rob Garner, author of "Search and Social", Derek Tucker - a great marketer - of Corel, folks at Kayak, Home Depot, Havas, Performics, Resolution Media, RKG, Kenshoo and many more. Key was the desire to share knowledge, whether competitor, prospect or client, attendees were there to learn, share & support the success of online marketing. And then the sun came out. :-)
If you didn't make it to SIS this year, check out this video of the Social Search Engine Optimization panel. I hope to see you there next year!
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