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SES San Jose 2007: Session of the Day: Keynote with ASK's Jim Lanzone
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
SES San Jose 2007: Session of the Day: Keynote with ASK's Jim Lanzone

Day two of Search Engine Strategies San Jose was quite busy. It started with the keynote featuring ASK's CEO, Jim Lanzone and finished with the famed Google Dance. It was tough to pick the session of the day as for us being fans of ASK the keynote was of great interest to us. However the last session of the day proved to be one of the best as there was a lot of discussion as to if paid links are evil.

This was a heated session featuring Matt Cutts of Google and some known "black-hats". The full panel consisted of Michael Gray, Todd Friesen, Todd Malicoat, Greg Boser and newcomer Andy Baio founder of Upcoming.org. While you can get more in-depth reviews of the session elsewhere just know that the session was in front of standing room only... you could not get another person in the room if your tried. Matt Cutts took the podium first followed by Michael Gray and the others. It was evident that the session was going to be a forum to "attack" Google and the other engines as comments from the speakers were directed at Matt and Google. Google was called hypocritical and was referred to as "not being the US government" (so they should control what is right and wrong etc etc. The session became fairly harsh at times and judging by Matt's facial expressions he was clearly taken aback by some of the commments from the other presentors.

I had the chance to speak with Matt at the Google Dance and mentioned that he did a great job in the session as he was being "roasted" by the other panelists. Matt still feeling the effect repilied, "yes it sure was quite a roast wasn't it?" He went on to say that they (Google and the other search engines) are just trying to keep everything relevent. You could tell he was slightly aggrevated as he mentioned that at a recent session he was "singled out again" this time by Tim Mayer from Yahoo. Matt's response was that he thought the engines (and in this case he and Tim) were friends. Matt was somewhat perplexed for Tim "selling him out" so-to-speak. Personally I thought Matt did a great job in a tough situation, with a tough panel in front of a tough audience. I told him that he did a great job at the session and he was appreciative of that.

Having said that, our favorite session of the day for day two (that we attended) was probably the keynote with ASK's Jim Lanzone.

Here are some highlights from the keynote:

- ASK's only motivation is to provide the best search experience and satisfy the needs of the user
- did you know that ASK is Google's largest global partner since 2002.
- Chris Sherman asked how ASK survived the dotcom fallout.... Lanzone replied that they narrowed the focus, bought the Teoma technology and from there it was all about product development.
- Question: Re: ASK Eraser and Privacy Issues, Chris asked the question of where the control should lie? Jim Lanzone downplayed the announcement and stated that ASK is launching ASK Eraser so that users feel comfortable using their service. Jim also mentioned that for personalization you will have to opt in with ASK's My Stuff service. They don't turn any on that on automatically.
- Jim touched on the fact that 50% of the new ASK SERP does not consist of the Web Results
- there was mention that image search queries have gone down because people are finding what they are looking for.
- Question: How sophisticated are big brands with search? Answer: It hasn't been real great. Jim mentioned the trend that big brands are buying a lot of SEM firms and are bringing it in-house because SEM is very different than anything they have dealt with (in terms of marketing) in the past. Jim felt that large ad agencies have a lot to learn about search, they're going to need expertise.
- Question: Where do you see the Internet in 3,5, 10 years? Answer: It's about conversions and audio, video, blogs etc. Search will become even more of a demand tool a personal navigation device.

The keynote was great for those not on top of what is happening at ASK. There was no earth shattering news to come out, but it was great to hear from Jim Lanzone. SEO Roundtable has a great review of this session as well as all of the other sessions at SES San Jose 2007.
posted by Jody @ Tuesday, August 21, 2007  
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