2008, the Year of ??? (Part 1 of 2)

As VP of Innovation & Product Development, it’s my job to know what’s next for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – and if it makes sense for our clients/business, figure out how to capitalize on it. Every year, SEM seemingly has had a major theme dominating the industry press. So far, 2008 looks to be a continuation of ’07…so it’s time for me to predict the future! First, let’s revisit the past, with some exaggerated headlines:

2003: “SEM is a Direct Response tool for E-Commerce companies”…the “B” word (Branding) was never spoken of.

2004: “Local Search is the Future”…a headline/mantra spanning several years, and which outlasted many products (Overture Local Match, Google Local).

2005: “Click Fraud, the Achilles Heel of SEM”…the sky was falling for a few months, then marketers realized not every eyeball or ear they pay for listens to their radio ads or sees their TV commercials either. Engines acted swiftly by building Fraud teams/processes to re-gain confidence.

2006: “Content Match/Contextual Advertising is the Answer”…we heard you Google & Yahoo, but glad we didn’t put too many eggs in this basket. Updated targeting algos eventually improved this traffic source, but the initial launches were pretty ugly in terms of value/ROI.

2007: “Web 2.0 (Video/Mobile/Widgets/RSS): Be There or Be Square”…the user will interact with brands on their own terms. Currently fits under the ‘nice-to-have’ category for most brands as ’07 was limited to the innovators and early adopter traffic; time will tell if the masses catch on to make these investments worth the development hours.

2008: ???...

Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, where three 2008 predictions will be made.

Posted by: Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development & Innovation


Dave McAnally said...

No mobile? Or are you throwing that under the local search realm? Seems like at least every year there's been some capacity of mobile web, there's been somebody ready to declare that given year as "the year of mobile SEM".

There's some of us around the camp that are hoping 08 will finally be it :-)

CJeffCampbell said...

RE: Mobile. It's under '07/Web 2.0. I hope 2008 sees more mobile traffic and finally lives up to the hype - but no, don't see '08 as the year of the mobile user. Do you build mobile compatibility before the buzz shifts to reality or do you wait for data showing it's caught on before making the investment? Food for thought...

Dave McAnally said...

Well that wouldn't be the first time I didn't read a post thoroughly ;-)

"Do you build mobile compatibility before the buzz shifts to reality or do you wait for data showing it's caught on before making the investment?"

Therein lies the problem I think a lot of people are hung up with. There's still this notion that whatever is happening on the big screen needs to be shoe-horned into the little one, when in fact, the two have entirely different functioniality and (ultimately) purposes. My favorite app from last year was the GMail one. It was a standalone venture that is built around the parameters of a mobile screen. Sure it sacrificed some functionality for the sake of usability, but in the end, the usability is what's going to sell new technology (witness the Newton vs. the ipod). Plus, it was actually designed to minimize the scroll-o-rama most mobile apps and sites subject us to. For people like me who refuse to buy an iphone (or any smartphone for the matter) because said phone will inevitably be broken and/or tossed in with my laundry, this is most beneficial.

Bryson said...

Jeff, I don't know if 2008 is going to be the year of the mobile user, and as someone who has been preparing for it for the last three years I'm not really holding my breath. What I do disagree with you about is that the buzz has yet to shift to reality. I looked at characteristics of mobile queries in the AT&T mobile search index recently (http://www.brysonmeunier.com/characteristics-of-the-top-100-mobile-search-queries-at-at-t), and some of the broader keywords have almost as much volume in AT&T's small base as Live Search's 13% market share engine. Add that to Eric Schmidt calling for a mobile revolution at the World Economic Forum and Matt Cutts calling mobile one of the four things SEOs need to optimize for in 2008 and I see no reason why businesses can't take advantage of it now. The buzz, to some extent, has shifted to reality.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing your three for '08, mobile or no.

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