RealTime IT News

Search Marketing Takes Center Stage

TORONTO -- It's all about marketing. That's the message from the two-day Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo that kicked off here today.

Attendees can choose from tracks that offer everything from the basics of the burgeoning search marketing business to advanced technical tips. Unsurprisingly, site optimization and pay-per-click strategies are common threads in panel discussions and keynote addresses.

The latest iteration of the show, which is produced by the same parent as this Web site, comes at a time of unprecedented interest in the search sector, in large part because of Google's impending IPO.

In a standing room only panel moderated by Jupiter Research Analyst Nate Elliott, executives from Google, Overture, SiteLab and Did-it, discussed the state of the search industry and its prospects.

Elliot presented results from the latest Jupiter Research survey showing that 22 percent of respondents bought 1,000 or more keywords in 2004, a dramatic increase from 4 percent last year.

The survey also showed the continued dominance of the Google. Eighty-five percent of respondents use Google and 48 percent thought it provided the best leads. The only other engine scoring above 1 percent in the category of providing the best leads was Overture at 25 percent.

Dan Bober, Overture's director of strategic alliances, outlined the property's network and stressed the growing importance of local search. Overture plans to open a Canadian division, though a launch date hasn't been announced.

Google's Canadian head of operations, Wendy Muller, said the soon-to-be public company already operates a highly visible Canadian version of Google.

Muller showcased Google's targeting technologies that allow advertisers to pinpoint the geographic area they want to reach. That may be city specific or even down to the latitude and longitude. Muller also noted that Google Labs' local search project will soon have a Canadian version as well.

Muller reminded the audience to stick to the "advertising basics" of reach and relevance. In a comment directed toward the large ad agencies that are well represented at the conference, she noted the high cost of buying time on the final episode of "Friends" and said spending that money on serach ads would be more effective.

"The Internet is the new prime-time," Muller said.

No discussion about marketing would be complete without talk of metrics, which in this case were touched on by Did-it.com CEO and ClickZ columnist Kevin Lee. Measurement tools are an important part of making sure ads reach the correct audience.

When the right readers are reached "search marketing is like having a psychic mailman," Lee told the audience.