WebProNews recently chatted with Tim Mayer, who left Yahoo back in August after serving as s VP of Search Products, VP of Search Business, and VP of North American Audience.
"I think we're seeing a much more competitive search environment," he tells us. "We've had Bing aggressively enter the marketplace, and Google's been responding, and we've seen a lot of changes to the search experience. First we saw Google Instant launch, and then we've seen the local search experience change quite dramatically recently."
"I think those drastic, really prominent changes are going to continue to happen throughout different verticals," he says. "In the future I think we'll see a lot more interaction with the search engine, especially as we move towards mobile where people don't want to be typing in a lot into the search engine. There's going to be a lot more voice interaction, which we're seeing in some of the services. Bing offers that. Google offers that."
"When you ask a question, the search engine might ask you for more details to accomplish a task," he explains. "It will also infer a lot of information that it understands, such as your location, such as preferences based on some of your history, and who your friends are and taking a lot of the social signals into account to serve for recommendations or narrowing your search in the future."
Of course we're already seeing Google making movies in this area, particularly with its recently launched Hotpot local, social recommendation engine.
"I think we've seen since the beginning of the Internet that there were a lot of brands - offline brands or television brands that did not have a presence on the web, so people got used to going to a place like Yahoo, where they could basically accomplish all their needs," Mayer tells us. "It was more of a convenience play, where people would go to do their mail, and they might use News or Finance or Sports, and I think now people...all the big offline brands and television brands like ESPN and CNN are actually online, and people will go to a different place for news, a different place for sports, a different place for search, so it's a lot less about convenience in the one-stop shop, and it's move much more towards a best of breed-type environment."
Users Want Brands
"I think we're seeing that change in search, where brands are becoming more dominant, because that's what the users want," he says. "For a particular task...when I'm booking tickets, I use Fandango. So if I search for a movie, I'd like to use that site. If I'm searching for a book, most people associate that with Amazon. They want to be connected to that brand. I find if I'm searching for a book, I get a much better experience on Amazon than I would on a horizontal search engine like Google. And we're seeing that bear out in the numbers."
"The large vertical search engines are growing at a much faster rate than the horizontal search is, so we're seeing YouTube grow incredibly fast. We're seeing Amazon grow as a search engine incredibly fast. And the experience for those types of searches is just far superior to what's offered via Google or Bing at this point, and that's why we're seeing...changes with local trying to compete with those big brands," says Mayer.
"We saw that mobile search by the end of 2012 was going to be one in five searches, which is quite a lot of the search market, and I'm sure in some future state, there will be more searches from mobile and tablet devices, so things will change, and that will have impacts on the query curve," he continues. "But we are seeing a lot of momentum in terms of people using more apps on the phone, and using the browser less as a percentage of time."
"There are a few problems with that, the first of which is how do I discover new apps is through browse, social, or search, and then once you've found a lot of apps, the difficulty is, 'how do I interact with apps from a central location?' I don't want to go through a two-step process of figuring out which app to use for a particular query, and then go into that app and start all over again, and then doing another search," he says. "People want to interact very similarly to how they have in the past with Google - type in a query, and if I have an app on my phone that meets that need very well, send the search directly to that app or send it out onto the web to the best site that's available there."
Are you doing more of your searching from mobile?