Search: Where it has come from and where it is going

Posted on: Monday 17 July 2017 | Jon Markwell

The IAB's Industry Initiatives Executive, Jon Markwell, reports on the back of last week's Search Conference.

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At the oh-so old age of 25, it doesn’t feel too long ago since I was an 8-year-old fighting with my younger brother (who is now at the-oh so young age of 23) over who could use my dad’s desktop computer. It was fully equipped with Encarta and Brittanica, to complete our oh-so very important homework (mine was more important because I’m older, obviously!) but for a while, that was as far as I could take my search.

A lot has changed since then, of course. But, even now, change is still happening rapidly. The search white paper gives a great insight into the potential of search marketing in brand campaigns but the IAB’s Search Conference: 24/7 Search, really brought things to life with agencies, tech companies and brands giving their perspective on the search environment. 

“I Search, therefore I am” is the philosophical proposition that VCCP Media’s Sam Fenton-Elstone used to start off the day. It really set off one of the main themes of this conference; as Harry Davies of Google put it, ‘everything starts with a search’. 

Search is no longer just a digital channel; It has now become an intrinsic part of everyday human behaviour – not in the form of our beloved Encarta though, unfortunately. The numbers say it all: search is 15% up year on year and attributed to 48% of the £10bn total digital adspend in 2016 (Source: IAB / PwC 2016 Digital Adspend Study).

It really does become apparent how much search has integrated itself into our lives; Aaron McGrath of Bing Ads cleverly compared the elements of search to the four elements Earth, Air, Fire, Water. But with so much change happening so quickly, where does search sit and where is it going?

Visual search and voice search were big talking points of the day. Considering Performics’ Jasdeep Mondae’s fun fact of the day, that human attention span online is less than that of a goldfish (9 seconds for a goldfish, by the way, so you probably aren’t reading this blog anymore), convenience and creativity are essentials for consumer value.

The conference audience on the day were fully engaged with Eva Tuckman of ROAST and Sleeping Giant Media’s Luke Quilter providing some interactive games to display how we use search; Toy Story 4, for example, has been searched more than Toy Story in the last 12 months which has me SUPER excited. 

Machine learning and A.I were, of course, another big talking point. The developments and implementation of machine learning are fascinating. Scott Abbott of iProspect ended the conference talking about how marketers should adapt to the new predictive marketing techniques and ‘marketing to the machine’. 

With everything from agency views, machine learning, the future and brand case studies, which saw Nick Buckley (who was definitely not a fan of Hammersmith, where L’Oreal are based in London) talk about how L’Oreal’s online search strategy attributes to offline results, the Search 2017: 24/7 Search conference gave a full perspective of the opportunities in search. As a consumer, even with my Encarta withdrawal symptoms, I have fully embraced search as a part of everyday life and it’s time brands understand the full potential they can unlock with search; the evolution of digital is changing the world, and we need to keep up. 

Written by

Jon Markwell

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