Scevak on trends in search marketing

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By Carol Krol

Niki Scevak is an analyst with Jupiter Research. BtoB’s Senior Reporter Carol Krol recently asked him about trends in search marketing.

BtoB: Search is so hot right now. Why is that?

Niki Scevak: In no other advertising medium is the user more expressly signaling their intent, based on that valuable behavioral state of the user. That’s the driver.

BtoB: What about vertical search?

Scevak: This year and next, vertical will characterize the product development strategies of Google, Yahoo! and other search providers. Helping the user make a purchase decision has a lot of room for improvement. Product development will focus around deepening the search experience. Bolting on an extra layer of vertical search enhances [that].

BtoB: : Will major search engines be able to deliver vertical as successfully as niche engines have?

Scevak: More deft companies can address niches more readily than can the broad-based search engines. The trend going forward is a lot of smaller players serving smaller niches. Most [vertical search] activity in b-to-b is around technology marketers. The TechTargets of the world are providing an index of [things such as] white papers and Web events and articulating value when a prospective customer [responds].

BtoB: Will large engines partner with niche engines?

Scevak: You’ll see partnerships along the ad sales line at least initially, and usage and traffic to vertical sites has a strong relationship with large engines. There will be strong ties on both sides.

BtoB: What about local search?

Scevak: The most important property to watch in local over the next six to twelve months is AOL’s pay-per-call product with Ingenio. What you have in the search world right now are product-based marketers. Pay-per-call makes search and online ads relevant to service based marketers: lawyers, accountants, doctors and so on. It will offer a window into the adoption of online advertising by service-based marketers. That’s not to say it will be a huge market by the end of the year, but it’ll offer very good insight.

BtoB: What is the "next big thing?"

Scevak: Pay-per-call is a significant catalyst to expanding the different types of marketers who will use search. You’ll see that come from the top down, so b-to-b services will lead the way.

BtoB: How might the search landscape change in the next twelve months?

Scevak: Traffic will remain concentrated among Google, Yahoo! and others, but there will be a whole lot more activity around the edges of search in vertical markets.

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