Sullivan: No One Will Win Search War

  |  March 2, 2004   |  Comments

The search guru paints a picture of search's future and calls for greater disclosure in paid inclusion.

No one will win the battle for search dominance. That's a good thing for consumers and marketers, said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch, in his keynote address at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York.

Sullivan demonstrated the volatile state of affairs in the search world by illustrating how dramatically search market share changed after Yahoo flipped the switch on its own algorithmic search technology last week. Yahoo increased it share of search to a very substantial 43 percent, while Google slipped to a 51 percent share.

But rather than declare Yahoo a winner and Google the loser, Sullivan noted both are still strong players.

"I hope everybody wins," he said. "I like them fighting with each other. I like what I call a diversity of search voices."

Sullivan predicted search would shake out and begin to resenble the cable TV industry. Some big network players: Yahoo, Google, and MSN, will dominate, but smaller players with niche offerings will also thrive. He cited DayPop, which specializes in news search, and Gigablast as examples of niche services that provide value.

"They probably will never be Googles or Yahoos or MSNs, but that doesn't mean they aren't helpful to people," said Sullivan.

The search guru also addressed other consequence of Yahoo's overhaul of its search program: a rise in the importance of paid inclusion. Yahoo Tuesday unveiled what it's calling its Content Acquisition Program (CAP), which brings together the three paid inclusion programs it previously operated. In paid inclusion, site owners pay for their pages to be crawled by the search engine, but receive no guarantee of how they will be ranked.

Sullivan called for greater disclosure in paid inclusion, suggesting Yahoo put small icons or dots by search results included in the index because site owners paid. In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission asked search engines to disclose more clearly where search results come from. Execs from Yahoo's Overture say the way search results are displayed on Yahoo Search meets the FTC guidelines. The full explanation of Yahoo search results are generated appears on a separate FAQ page.

That isn't enough, maintained Sullivan. He argued disclosure should occur on the search results page.

"Some people want to know," Sullivan insisted. "Give them a few dots."

Still, he acknowledged involving marketers with search engines has benefits, especially in the increased communication that allows both sides to better understand one another's goals.

Looking to the future, Sullivan predicted search engine marketers would someday bid not on keywords, but on concepts and audiences. "They won't buy a term like 'sofa,' but a package of terms that cover the concept of 'sofa,'" he suggested as an example. Search engines will assemble packages, as online publishers do now, to help marketers better reach their target audiences

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Sept 5 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Parker

Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Digital Marketing Analyst
      Digital Marketing Analyst (GovLoop) - Washington D.C.Are you passionate about audience acquisition? Love effective copy and amazingly effective...
    • Product Specialist
      Product Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreDescription: The Product Specialist is hyper-focused on the customer experience and ensures that our...
    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...