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SES 2006: Searchonomics

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Speakers at the Searchonomics: Serious & Fun Stats panel on day one of the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose covered ad spends, prom dresses, and the eternal surprise in retailers’ minds.

SES 2006: Searchonomics
SES 2006: Searchonomics

Staff writer Doug Caverly of WebProNews filed this exclusive look at the SES 2006 San Jose session on the serious and fun side of Searchonomics.

David Hallerman, senior analyst with eMarketer, led the lively session on Searchonomics today. He noted that Internet advertising in total will top $20 billion in 2007, and exceed radio spending in 2008.

It isn’t entirely Google’s world, though. Hallerman thinks a site does not have to completely dominate search to make money. He cited quotes from Danny Sullivan (“At this point, a lot of it is branding.”) and Yahoo CFO Susan Decker (“We don’t think it’s reasonable to assume we’re going to gain a lot of share from Google.”) in making this point.

Decker gained a lot of attention in January 2006, when that quote set off questions about Yahoo Search and its dedication to improvement. Two executives on the Yahoo Search team refuted her remarks the next day.

It looks like Decker may be right. Yahoo doesn’t have to be the top dog in search, as long as it’s a powerful brand name. And Yahoo does branded advertising very well, judging by its many ad partners.

Local search looks like the area that will grow dramatically, if only because it is such a smaller piece of the total search picture now, according to Hallerman.

Bill Tancer of Hitwise made another day one appearance, saying, “I’ve got the greatest job in the world.” A self-described data geek, Tancer said, “I get really excited by some of the minutiae I find in the search term data.”

(We have to observe here that Tancer’s going to be positively thrilled at the prospect of sifting through AOL’s release of search data, now appearing on mirror sites and torrents all over the Internet. Someone get the man a towel.)

When it comes to search, people still search mostly for navigational and brand search terms. “MySpace is the hot search query, capturing five of the top 20 terms,” he noted. “It tells you what’s top of the line . . . this gives you an idea of how massive MySpace has become.”

Tancer then took the opportunity to mention, by the way, Google and Fox signed a deal that will have Google search and advertising integrated with Fox properties like MySpace.

Research on how people search revealed that people tend to look for things in the same way they talk about them. They also search for things online before purchasing them offline.

Tancer used the prom dress example to demonstrate. Queries for prom dresses began to increase in January in the Hitwise Lifestyle – Fashion category and then in March, queries for them in the Shopping & Classifieds – Department Store category started to rise.

As far as surprising retailers goes, Tancer said that brick-and-mortar retailers are often surprised by the information, like the prom dress searches, revealed in search analysis.

Perhaps as more entrepreneurs understand the correlation between online retail research and offline buying habits, they will be more prepared to enter the local search market.


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

SES 2006: Searchonomics
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