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Yahoo! Gives 2nd SearchLight Award

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So amid the restructuring Yahoo! had time to give out the second annual SearchLight awards today.

As their press release states:

The Yahoo! 2nd Annual Searchlight Award winner is Avenue A|Razorfish for their “Your Choice, Your Chase” campaign! Avenue A|Razorfish was a finalist last year at the first-ever Searchlight Awards. This year, Senior Search Account Manager Steve Capone provided solid research to show the benefits of using broad keywords to drive brand awareness for Chase. The campaign also focused on how the Chase microsite delivered the right product with the right rewards to interested customers. Avenue A|Razorfish is an interactive services firm that helps companies use the online channel as a marketing and business tool.

Not surprising since the other three spent very little time discussing how search was part of their overall campaigns.....

I voted for AvenueA/RazorFish .... they gave us search details.

The award - a spotlight similar to last year's designed by West Coast Custom (of Pimp My Ride fame) - comes with a party at the winning agency and some joint advertising with Yahoo.

The event was fun. The four finalists of 30 agencies that submitted entries included NeoSearch who ran the Sprint/Tallladega Nights promotion with a budget of $160,000 (though they only spent under $2,500 on search), Special K - the cereal that is all about weight loss and has joined the numerous companies creating niched portals at Yahoo, and Lexus LS and Team One whose clever use of the Yahoo Home Page to show the car's ability to parallel park with an intertestial that ran across the page then parked itself were all informative.

Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, in her keynote address, gave the audience a great overview of where the search industry is and where it needs to look to the future.

Using the opening comments of VP of Yahoo Agency Development Ron Belanger's to the old Virginia Slims ad "we've come a long way, baby", Ms Desmond noted that the first 21st century marketing tool was search.

"Optimize, convert and report", Desmond explained need to be the goals of the internet marketers of the future. "Search is more than direct response", she explained, "the high tech, on demand era is here".

The most important question is "is our imagination big enough for this world," Desmond said. "Take risks," she stated and quoting Wayne Gretzsky went on to say "you will miss 100% of the shots you do not try".

Desmond told the audience to embrace innovation and change. Convert and leverage data to produce powerful keywords for search and establish holistic goals, she said.

Search and online analytics are now being used to impact car design and assembly line production, Desmond said. "Optimize and convert" and repeat the process,she told the audience, "search is more than direct reponse".

The opening address was insightful for a self admitted non-search expert.

Desmond asked her staff to describe the search industry in relation to advertsing and got some interesting responses.

Five were given. The first group saw search as a wise old sage with years of experience (guess they were new to the space). The second thought of a school age child soaking up knowledge. Third was search as a young professional - not fully matured but eager to grow.

The fourth group thought search was the Greek God Mercury - the ominipresent messenger. The final group saw search as a toddler with many stages of growth to go.

Yahoo's recognition of the importance of search is commendable. Their promotion of these awards helps agencies trying to convert the holdovers from old methods of advertising.

Search has not been pushed aside by Yahoo just yet. Here's hoping there is a third SearchLight award.


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