Future of Search: The European View

Richard Firminger, Director of Northern European Sales for Yahoo Search Marketing emailled his version of the future of search today.

Interesting to see how others see where we will be moving this year. Below is a copy of the email.

Without a doubt, 2006 has been an exciting year within the realm of internet search. Not only has the number of internet searches per year hit record highs, consumers themselves are becoming more demanding and sophisticated in how they use search engines.

As a result 2007 will see advertisers and search companies reacting in kind. New platforms, technologies and trends that started to gain momentum towards the end of 2006 will soon become everyday.

The search engines themselves will evolve. From a single search we will soon be able to receive answers incorporating text (sponsored and algorithmic), video, images and even human knowledge – the latter coming from social search products like Yahoo! Answers, which was launched this year.

2006 saw a cautious approach by the industry to advertising on social media, with the fear of incurring a negative audience response to intrusive or irrelevant advertising, top of mind.

However, with some success already – the Sainsbury’s and Thomson sponsorships on Yahoo! Answers, for example – advertisers and media owners alike will be looking to further monetise these highly-qualified and engaged audiences throughout 2007.

Additionally, natural language, or Semantic Search – which enables users to pose queries as a properly phrased question, not with a couple of words – may come to the fore.

This next generation search engine obviously poses as many opportunities for advertisers as it does for consumers. However, for advertisers to maximise the revenue potential of these new opportunities, search companies must, in turn, evolve their campaign management applications.

In early 2007, Yahoo! will do this with its new search advertising platform. Future-proofed to evolve with new and existing trends in online advertising, the new platform will provide advertisers with enhanced capabilities and tools such as Geo-targeting and advanced analytics.

This will enable search marketers to work more like traditional marketers – not simply keyword specialists – by providing them with the capabilities and insights that will truly help them be more strategic and efficient in how they drive results.

New advertising platforms will also play a key role in what will be a major trend in online advertising during 2007 – mobile.

As Yahoo!’s CEO & President, Terry Semel, said in his recent speech at IAB Engage, the sheer number of mobile devices – an estimated 2 billion compared to 900 million PCs – means the next big area of internet growth will be among users who have never connected to the Internet via a computer and maybe never will.

2007 will see more mobile operators lower their ‘walled gardens’ and establish strategic partnerships in a similar vein to Yahoo! with Vodafone, 3, Nokia and Orange. These partnerships will enable mobile operators to maximise the all important revenue potential of their existing customer base through search and graphical advertising.

Once the pricing models, opt-in policies and ad formats have been finalised, 2007 will see mobile start realising Terry Semel’s prediction.

Like the year just past, 2007 will be another big year in online advertising. But whilst it will be a year of maximising revenue opportunities, we should not forget about maintaining a positive user experience – as they, after all, are the cornerstone of our industry.

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