Social search empowers marketers: ad:tech New York panel

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NEW YORK -- Social search has truly changed the way that people connect with content on the Web and advertisers should be taking advantage of this development, panelists said Nov. 6 at ad:tech New York's "The Social Evolution: How Search is Changing" session.

In the old days the methods of achieving relevance were nothing compared to what they are today, said Kevin Ryan, CEO of Kinetic Results, New York.

"There are still some problems," Mr. Ryan said. "Moving beyond the rank addiction is one and applying new technologies to search is another."

Mr. Ryan also said that the next generation of search lies in the hands of Feedster, Yahoo, Google, Rollyo and Grokker.

"Don't enrage - engage," Mr. Ryan said. "Being honest is the best was to get and keep customers."

Emil Ismalon, chief technology officer of Collarity, Palo Alto, CA, said search was all about keyword density, link topology, semantics structure and people power years ago.

With the abrupt emergence of social search, the landscape has changed drastically, giving marketers more power.

"Tell me who your friend is and I will tell you who you are," Mr. Ismalon said.

This stands true in social search. By researching an individual's profile on MySpace, marketers can make certain assumptions about the community to which this person belongs.

It is important to aggregate the user with the content on his or her page and how the two relate. Then it is quite easy to make assumptions about the user's community.

"Like-minded people very often stick together," Mr. Ismalon said.

There are some limitations to social search. One is forcing users to bookmark, tag, rate and cluster so that you can get information on them.

Another problem is that there is a militant minority defining relevance for the majority, Mr. Ismalon said.

Peter Hirschberg, chairman and chief marketing officer at Technorati, talked about getting your message through to one person being an accomplishment in itself because people really trust each other.

"More than two-thirds of people trust their peers when it comes to buying products or services," Mr. Hirschberg said.

That is precisely why people blog.

"Marketers can also use blog topics to make certain assumptions about users regarding their needs, wants and what they would or would not like," Mr. Hirschberg said.

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