The holiday season is a time for sharing, spending time with family, and the time for writers everywhere to hopelessly pontificate about the coming year. That's right folks, looking forward is a hobby for some, a trade profession for others, and a distraction from apartment hunting for at least one search writer.
It's also a great time to squeeze in some personal hopes, dreams, and generally unrealistic expectations for the coming year. The good news is, one can be as irresponsible as one wishes this time of year since so few people are actually taking the time to read the trades.
So sit back, relax, and breathe in the best in baseless, unaccountable predictions for 2008.
Yahoo Makes a Huge Comeback
Not that Yahoo isn't doing well on its own; it's just that people keep comparing it to Google. Triple digit share prices compared to double digit share prices just don't bode well. My monthly search activity e-mail from the search intelligence firm Hitwise consistently points out that Google is inching toward world domination while leaving everyone else in the dust -- a few percentage points a time.
Several running theories about why Google is leading in countries like France, United States, Holland, and United Kingdom had my head spinning recently. Why hasn't anyone connected the dots? Google's colors (red, white and blue) are all featured prominently on the flags of each of these countries.
Maybe it's just a case of the end of year, holiday season melty moments, but perhaps all Yahoo has to do is change its color scheme to be something a little more multi-nationally patriotic. For example, Yahoo could use blue, red, and white instead of red, white, and blue. Unless you're a proud citizen of Chuvashia (purple, but actually red on the true flag), purple and yellow just won't do it.
Then again, as universal search components are integrated across the Web -- we'll see more of this in 2008 -- search can once again be anyone's game.
The Rodney Dangerfield School of Search
I'm sure Professor Don Shultz wanted to issue a wakeup call for the search business as he delivered his keynote speech at SES Chicago earlier this month. The message was pretty clear to most who attended: how can search get some respect? Why not simply join the mainstream and figure out how to work with traditional marketers.
One of my hopes for 2008 lies in the message Don brought to SES. If 2002 to 2007 weren't the years that search "got some respect" in the eyes of those holding the big bags of money in the marketing and advertising space, perhaps next year will be that year.
Sure, there are lots of folks spending money on search, but mainly because they were left with little choice in the matter. As we know, money can't buy respect, but it sure does help grease the wheels, doesn't it?
Power to the People
Speaking of respect, the Internet's social functions have provided a means of establishing self-worth and self-valuation to everyone living in their parent's basement in ways previously thought unimaginable. Gone are the days when people actually had to go out in the world and do something. Now you can just blog about it and optimize the heck out of your posts.
Then again, as algorithms and ranking methodologies simultaneously evolve with the natural impulsive and cyclical nature of the human condition, I have high hopes that people will get bored with virtual activities in favor of real interactions.
I can hope. That's what New Year's is all about after all.
The Death of Facebook
One of the more memorable conversations I had this year was with Tim O'Reilly of Web 2.0 fame at his event in Beijing. I was trying to reconcile the technological aspects of what we as marketers do with the developer mentality and mindset.
I had (in my mind) established O'Reilly and company as the leaders in the technical space. I said, "you guys build it," and Tim finished my sentence by saying, "and you guys figure out how to exploit it." With that, we both smiled and went on about our day.
I can't help but think how right Tim is. As I read through my Facebook updates, I noticed that a lot of people in my list are pimping one thing or another. My, that didn't take long, did it?
Facebook is just another marketing medium within a medium. The problem is marketing exploitation tends to kill our favorite platforms, search being the exception that proves the rule.
And there you have it folks: the death of Facebook as a community building destination, Yahoo comes back big and search finally gets some respect. Next year is looking better and better by the minute. Happy holidays and a glorious New Year to all!
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