Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft on future of search

4 Apr 2008

The three search engine heavyweights were present yesterday at the Search Marketing World 2008 conference in Dublin and one topic they were all keen to talk about was the future of search.

Search engine marketing remains very strong in the Irish market said Mike O’Shea, director for the EMEA region, inside sales organisation at Google.

O’Shea said the biggest challenge, however, was in educating small businesses and marketing agencies as online advertising currently only accounts for 1.5pc to 2.5pc of the overall advertising spend in an organisation’s budget.

When it comes to the future of search, O’Shea said it is most definitely going in the direction of mobile, a view echoed by Peter Cobley, regional UK sales manager for Yahoo!.

Cobley said: “Yahoo! is investing very heavily in mobile. However, everyone waxes lyrical about mobile as the next platform but it is not necessarily the panacea they think it is.

“Mobile penetration is huge in the western world, usage is huge, but for sucessful mobile search and advertising, user adoption of the mobile web and the provision of a use-friendly experience on the handset is needed.”

Cobley added that as far as the web experience goes, the iPhone marked the first real point of convergence.

Mel Carson, Microsoft’s adCentre community manager for Europe, said that going forward, while social networking sites like Facebook or Bebo will continue to grow, he doesn’t think this will affect the relevancy of the search engine for users who need results.

He feels that the search engine and the social networking site can happily co-exist because while users value personal recommendations from friends, their network might not necessarily know the answer to their query or problem.

On the other hand, said Carson, search engine sites like Microsoft’s Live are working on narrowing down user intent, with personalisation being a key focus going forward.

Both Microsoft and Google emphasised the need for a balance between developing more relevant, customised searches for the user, while protecting their data and providing them with information on how that data is being used.

By Marie Boran