Quick Hits from SES

    December 5, 2006

Some of the live-blogger posts will be more comprehensive, but here’s some quick takes.

According to one rep from Incisive Media, a large proportion of this year’s attendees are first-timers. This has meant, I believe, a high degree of satisfaction with sessions that are geared towards beginner to intermediate search marketers. Matt van Wagner, who co-presented Paid Search 101 with Dana Todd, discovered that the entire audience for that session really was in the right room. Tons of folks are really just looking for an introduction.

Somewhat typical, if surprising, was the furniture retailer I bumped into at the Yahoo! party (and when am I not at a Yahoo party?). He mentioned he was spending a scant $100/mo. on paid search, just dipping his toe in that water. “I just hate giving a dollar to Google or Yahoo,” he said. That, of course, assumes there is some other legitimate way to consistently drive traffic to your company’s site. He was considering it, and wondering what the right amount of money would be to run a few tests to get a campaign optimized. That’s the right type of thinking – but it also indicates that it hasn’t happened yet, which augurs for continued growth both in conference learning and in spending on paid search.

The session on Ads Quality in which I spoke along with Joshua Stylman and Jonathan Mendez, was fuller than you would expect, in one of the larger session rooms. Many advertisers who weren’t in that room and who aren’t paying attention will take some time to crack that nut.

Currently Yahoo is holding a networking lunch & learn to intro their Panama platform here. As I walked past, the room was already starting to fill beyond capacity. Because this is a “sponsored” type (or at least large-company-sponsor related) lunch that is in parallel with the standard lunch, you wouldn’t necessarily expect attendees to attend (interruption marketing vs. lunching with pals)… but they’re doing so. They want to hear the message.

I just finished moderating a panel on domain type-in traffic and the like. The CEO of Moniker.com, Monte Cahn, spoke extensively. Shorter presentations were offered by Jon Lisbin of Point-It (from the SEM agency side), Andrew Beckman of SearchAdNetwork, Josh Meyers of Yahoo, and Hal Bailey of Google. As moderator, I vow to be moderate. But a key takeaway from the Q&A is clearly this: Jon (backed up by at least a couple of audience members) argued for site exclude capability and challenged both Yahoo and Google to do better at this. With Google, it looks like parked domain traffic and the like are offered through “search partners” and not the content network, meaning that exclusion is only something you could negotiate outside the platform, going through your AdWords rep. But Jon’s agency rep noted that two major sources of this traffic were “unexcludable.” Hal Bailey claimed a very recent decision had been made (one wondered if it was right on the spot) to make “any site excludable.” FWIW, Lisbin was smart enough to show a screen shot of the communication from his agency rep, so basically, he had them dead to rights.

Yahoo’s Meyers noted that new control features would be coming down the pike as Panama rolled out, but gave few specifics and made no tangible promises. Both Yahoo and Google maintain that this traffic is “search-like,” and have no plans to move it into the content network or its own category.

My comment would be: at least, if you say you’re going to offer fuller-featured site exclusion controls, do what you say, Yahoo and Google. I think I speak for nearly all advertisers when I say: we’re waiting for you to come through here.

Back in awhile.



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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded Traffick.com, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.