Search Supercharges Ad Platforms but What’s In It for the User?

Seems like all the innovation lately with the search engines has been in rolling out sophisticated ad targeting platforms. Yahoo’s the latest to blow their horn about their own back end (and I realize that paints an ugly picture).

I’m a search marketer, and I love the advances that are being made in being able to target geographically, demographically and behaviorally, but I can’t help but think, “Who are we targeting?”. While the engines try to woo advertisers with better tools, what good is it doing if their market share is dwindling because they’re not giving the user a reason to use the engine?

I have not seen a significant improvement to the every day search user experience from any of the big 3 in years. One may argue that if you take advantage of search history or other enhancements that have debuted in beta, it offers more value to the searcher. But that does nothing for the vast majority of searches that happen every day on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Nobody has upped the ante. Ask is the only engine I’ve seen that made some significant changes on the interface (more about that later today).

As a search marketer, it’s all about market share. It takes time to target and strategically plan a campaign, and while the new platforms offer some impressive capabilities, they also add time required to manage them. Am I going to use that time to target 11% of the search market, 23%  or 50%? It just makes sense to use your time where it gets you the biggest return.

A word of advice. Worry about getting the users first, then worry about the tools to target them.

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