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SES San Jose Reviews: Technical and Information Giants
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Well keeping with our promise of delivering our reviews of sessions from SES San Jose, one of the events that we were looking forward to was the Orion Panel from Day 2 featuring some of the industries leading technical and information giants. The panel consisted of key innovators, movers and shakers discussing how the past will shape the future and what we can expect with Search in upcoming months and years.

The panel was very impressive and featured the likes of:
  • Matt Cutts - Software Engineer and Google Guru
  • Danny Sullivan - Editor-in-Chief - Search Engine Land
  • Tim Westergren - Founder of Pandora
  • Robert Scoble - Managing Director, FastCompany.TV and technology evangelist
  • Kirsten Mangers - CEO WebVisible
  • Rich LeFurgy - General Partner - Archer Advisors

I was impressed with a number of panelists most notably Kirsten, Tim, Matt and Robert. I felt that Danny Sullivan was a little quiet although he was asked at the outset if there is a "Google-killer" out there. His matter of fact response was that there is no Google-killer out there. "Microsoft has tried unsuccessfully for five years. If they can't do it, who can?" He did mention something that I have often stated that if there is a Google killer, it will be an external source such as the government or some governing presence. Mike Grehan the co-moderator added the fact that competition is great. "Why do you have to be a Google killer?" Robert Scoble added that Microsoft needs similar usage (as Google) to study the result set like Google does.

Matt Cutts, the representative from Google, threw out the fact that Google likes to build expertise themselves and that they have had to scale things up. Google really likes to experiement and that they have more people working on search then ever before. There was a comment from one of the panelists as to how do you rotate the sites on the fringe into the top results? (i.e. the sites outside the top 10, 20, 30 or top 100). Cutts responded with the idea that the search engines need new ways to get relevant results to the top.

Kirsten commented about local search and how local is 18-20 months behind national marketing campaigns. She made the comment that local is all about extended reach and distribution an that there is a long way to hit the reach for local.

Robert Scoble made an interesting point that there is a misunderstanding by people to use tools and that we're going to see a lot of backfilling and education to gain an understanding of the online tools out there.

From here Matt Cutts mentioned that in terms of the future, think about mobile phones vs. PCs. There is clearly an opportunity with mobile and local search. Rich LeFurgy added that Nokia sells millions of hand sets a day and owns 40% of the market. Could they be a Google killer? Matt Cutts responded with the thought of open source technologies that will become available. Scoble added that a better question than who is a Google-killer is who is going to get earlier into understanding the buying behaviour?

The discussion kept leading back to local search. Tim mentioned that in his industry that local is the "mother-load" with re: to royalties for Internet Radio. Danny Sullivan added that in terms of advertising mediums, only the Yellow Pages can compare to Search. Search n ever ends. Matt Cutts added that there is more opportunity with discovery and search.

The next topic of dicsussion was on how there will be a transition from marketers when it comes to budget allocation. Tim stated that the next big thing is finding ways to accomodate money from big brand advertisers. Scoble added that agencies will be looking for places to put their money online. Think mobile and social networking trends. He talked about an emerging technology that can be used to search photographs being used anywhere on the Web.

Kirsten added a few more thoughts about some of the trends we are starting to see:

  • we are seeing declining usage in traditional media
  • distribution points of users
  • integrators and complimentors
  • increase in mobile usage and spending
  • hyper-local search activity

Matt Cutts added that we will be seeing more in terms of mobile, cloud based storage (using tools such as Google Apps.). He mentioned that it is cheaper than ever to become a startup and that there are so many different application and that we haven't even scrateched the surface with applications.

Danny Sullivan said that there will be a real need to understand the discovery process and how people search for information.

Overall not bad. The speakers were all respected in their fields and it was interesting to hear their take on where search and the online world is going. Loved Robert Scoble, the man is just full of energy and knowledge. He's like a kid in a candy store.

We'll be posting a couple more reviews of some of the sessions that we attended at SES San Jose in the next week. Stay tuned!

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