SES: Late Night With Danny Sullivan

    December 7, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The evening keynote at SES Chicago by the person most readily identified with the conference series, Danny Sullivan, looked at the future of search. WebProNews’ Chris Richardson frantically typed notes while a balky laptop battery ticked down to zero.

Late Night With Danny Sullivan
Late Night With Danny Sullivan

Danny hit on a variety of topics during his evening keynote at SES Chicago. It’s also possibly the last time attendees of the Windy City version of the conference will see him speaking, as he transitions out of Incisive Media in favor of his Search Marketing Expo efforts.

He noted the convergence of search on devices beyond the PC. Mobile search has become a hotly contested area for the major search players.

The path those players, like Yahoo and Microsoft, have taken to compete with Google has led them to make some interesting observations about search. Microsoft vacillates between a desire to kill Google and to co-exist with it because search is a young industry with room for lots of players.

Danny viewed Yahoo then-CFO Susan Decker’s comments that the company was willing to settle for being second in search as “realistic guidance.” Those comments drew criticism from inside and outside the company, but Danny said maintaining second place as they have is not a negative.

Competitively, Microsoft built its search engine from scratch. It hasn’t been an easy journey for them, but as’s Erik Selberg commented, it’s “not yet better, but also not laughable.” Their name change from MSN Search to hasn’t helped because the new name doesn’t make people think of search.

Danny gave them credit for some of their vertical work. Live Local has been very hot, and the image search at is very good.

He also discussed video, which has exploded across the Internet to the point where it seems like everyone has video on their websites. Danny speculated that there may be more money in video than there is in search.

That would make video a multi-billion dollar industry. Now the big and small players just need to figure out how to squeeze those dollars out of the videos.

Google and Yahoo accept videos as submissions. They don’t spider video yet. (Technology for indexing by audio track does exist, used by sites like PodZinger and AOL’s Truveo. – David)

Danny touched on the topic of search marketing, always of interest to SES attendees. He reiterated previous point’s he’s made about search, and how it is a reverse broadcast medium where the viewers broadcast their wants and SEM tries to match that with the best available answers.

He also sees the click fraud issue as not being the death of Google or pay per click advertising. And as the various copyright lawsuits against Google proceed to a final judgment, Danny believes they will likewise not be the threat it has been called in the wake of the YouTube acquisition.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.