In the Second Week of New Year's, My SearchDay Gave to Me:

In the second week of New Year's, my SearchDay gave to me:
Eight firms a-buying,
Seven forums buzzing,
Six engines searching,
Five Google things...

Last week, in the First Week of New Year's, we looked at some individuals who speak, blog, scribble, and Digg who will influence the search engine industry in the coming year. This week, we're going to look at some of the organizations that will set the agenda in 2007.

Please approach these lists with the same caveats we gave last week: these are subjective lists that we hope our readers can find some value in and have fun with at the same time.

Eight Firms A-Buying

The first group is the top Internet advertisers by media value. These organizations can get a phone call returned from even the highest ranking executives at a company with a market cap approaching $150 billion (i.e. Google).

Based on data provided to Search Engine Watch by Nielsen//NetRatings from its AdRelevance service, these are the top 8 sponsored link advertisers ranked by the amount of sponsored link impressions bought during 2006:

  1. eBay (34.4 billion sponsored link impressions)
  2. NexTag (8.9 billion impressions)
  3. Amazon (5.7 billion impressions)
  4. Yahoo (5.1 billion impressions)
  5. Target (5.0 billion impressions)
  6. InterActiveCorp (4.8 billion impressions)
  7. BizRate (4.3 billion impressions)
  8. Orbitz (4.1 billion impressions)

Seven Forums Buzzing

The next group is forums. Okay, so calling search engine forums "organizations" is like calling Democrats members of an "organized" political party. But, the buzz in forums does have an impact -- even if members have to settle for an occasional post from GoogleGuy instead of getting their phone calls returned.

Now, there are more than seven search engine forums. So, with apologies to the ones that haven't been mentioned in the Search Engine Forums Spotlight in the past month, here is a selection of the seven search engine forums (listed alphabetically) that will create search buzz in 2007:

Six Engines Searching

There are dozens of search engines that would love to become "the next Google." According to the National Venture Capital Association, venture capitalists have put nearly $350 million into no fewer than 79 start-ups that have something to do with Internet search -- just since the beginning of 2004.

Their ambitious quest seems so absurd that it reminds me of Luigi Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author." But, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin started tinkering with BackRub in a dorm room at Stanford University back in 1996, no one imagined that they would triumph over AltaVista, Lycos, Excite and the other leading search engines of the day.

So, which organizations that are developing search engines will set the agenda in 2007? Of course it could be Yahoo, Microsoft, or AOL. But it's more fun to speculate about start-ups and upstarts.

Miguel Helft of The New York Times mentioned five contenders in his article, "Looking for the next Google." Plus, there's one more that I think he overlooked. In alphabetical order, here is my list of the six engines that are searching for a way to set the agenda in the coming year:

  • Ask X, the newest iteration of Ask.com
  • ChaCha, the world's biggest live search site
  • hakia, the Web's new "meaning-based" search engine
  • Powerset, natural language search
  • Snap, the other way to search
  • Search Wikia, a wiki-inspired search engine

Five Google Things

No list of the organizations that will set the agenda in the search engine industry during the coming year would be complete without Google.

But, as Nicholas Carr noted in his post, "The Five Google Products," on his Rough Type blog, "It seems like only yesterday that a bunch of breathless articles appeared touting the brilliance of Google's innovation strategy. That strategy was, if you recall, the spaghetti strategy: Throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks."

This strategy is now being overhauled. In a Business 2.0 article entitled, "How to Succeed in 2007," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, "We are focused on features, not products. We eliminated future products that would have made the complexity problem worse. We don't want to have 20 different products that work in 20 different ways. I was getting lost at our site keeping track of everything. I would rather have a smaller set of products that have a shared set of features."

Carr goes on to provide his best guess at what this smaller set of products will be and how they'll be branded. I think he's nailed the spaghetti to the wall -- and have borrowed his list to come up with the five Google things that will set the agenda in 2007:

  1. Google Search ("Google" goes back to meaning just search: for all information types, on all devices, personalized)
  2. AdMarket (a unified market place for buyers and sellers, spanning Web text, Web video, Web banners, print, radio, TV)
  3. YouTube (YouTube expands from video to become the common interface for all media sharing)
  4. YouTools (what Apps for Your Domain morphs into, with different tool sets for businesses, families, universities, and hospitals)
  5. YouFile (a personal information management service, covering health data, finances, etc.)

Of course, I could be wrong. So, please share your thoughts about these lists, or suggest other organizations that will set the agenda in the coming year over at the SEW forums.

Greg Jarboe is the President and Co-Founder of SEO-PR and a partner in Newsforce. He is also the news search, blog search and public relations correspondent for the Search Engine Watch Blog.