Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
0
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Search engineresults2010
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Search engineresults2010

773

Published on

Published in: Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
773
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
3
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Search Engine Results: 2010What search engines may look like in the future, including personalization,universal search, eye tracking and interviews with leading industry experts By: Gord Hotchkiss Tracy Sherman Rick Tobin Cory Bates Krista Brown 2007 08 16
  • 2. What do the next three years hold for the About Enquiro Researchworld of search? Will the search results enquiroresearch.compage in 2010 looks similar to what we use One of North America’s leading search marketing firms, Enquiro provides online mar-today? keting and research solutions to a client base which includes several Fortune 500 com- panies. Its strategies are based on its own industry research and expertise in usability,We interviewed some of the industrys top and natural and sponsored search. Enquiro has also authored eye tracking studiesanalysts and thought leaders to find out. which have given marketers a greater understanding of user interaction with the majorAnd Enquiro conducted eye tracking on search engines and defined “Google’s Golden Triangle.”some of these possible future scenarios tosee how users would interact. About Gord Hotchkiss Gord has been active in the marketing and advertising industry for over 20 years and has led Enquiro to be one of North America’s fastest growing tech companies. Also the board chairperson for the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO), he is recognized as an industry thought leader who is frequently called upon as a speaker, writer and analyst. EMAIL For questions or to request a quote: sales@enquiro.com MAIL 1628 Dickson Ave., Suite 300 Kelowna, BC, Canada V1Y 9X1 PHONE Toll Free: 1.800.277.9997 Phone: 1.250.861.5252 Fax: 1.250.861.5235 2 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 3. Contents Introduction………………………………………….....4 Methodology…………………………………………....6 The Interviewees.……………………………..….....…8 The Interviews…………………………………..…….10 The Eye Tracking Study……………………...……..28 Chunking……………………………………...……….30 Fencing…………………………………………...…….34 Google: 2010?...................................................44 Time Spent on Page by Section - Buyers………....50 Time Spent on Page by Section - Buyers………....51 Implications for Marketers….….……………………54 Acknowledgements…………………………………...60 The Team………………………………………………..61 3Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 4. Introduction What does the next three years hold for the world results page have to change in order to be noticed on a richer results page? of search? Will the search results page in 2010Search: 2010 looks similar to the search results page we’re see- ing today? At Enquiro, we have long been saying that the in- troduction of things like personalization and uni-Strategies and tactics used by marketers We seem to be at a important juncture in the his- versal search results will dramatically impact the entire world of search marketing. The rules willwill have to evolve quickly and dramati- tory of search engines. To this point, most of the innovation that’s been happening with the search change significantly and the strategies and tacticscally in order to keep pace with its rate of used by marketers will have to evolve quickly and engine has been happening in the back end, im-change being seen from the engines proving and tweaking the algorithms. But in the dramatically in order to keep pace with the rate ofthemselves. past six months we’ve seen the beginning of what change being seen from the engines themselves. It promises to be significant changes in the actual seemed logical to us that now would be an oppor- search interface. Google’s unveiling of personal- tune time to take the pulse of the search user ex- ization and universal search together with Ask’s perience and try to see a few years into the future unveiling of 3D Search both seem to indicate that how changes may impact both the user experience the pace of change in interface design is picking and effective strategies to intercept those users. up. Why is this important? The search results So we launched an initiative to interview a select pages have remained a fairly static landscape for group of experts. First we talked to the usability the entire history of search. There has been little people at each of the major engines, Marissa Mayer “It seemed logical to us at Google, Larry Cornett at Yahoo, Justin Osmer at change in the text oriented linear presentation of that now would be an search results. The paradigm of 10 blue organic Microsoft and Michael Ferguson at Ask. Then we opportune time to take link and a handful of sponsored results has be- reached out to top industry analysts and thought the pulse of the search come fairly established amongst all the major play- leaders and chatted with each of them. This group included Danny Sullivan, Jakob Nielsen, Chris user experience and try ers. And this common presentation of results has Sherman and Greg Sterling. With each, we asked to see a few years into largely dictated what the scanning pattern of those results would be. This scanning pattern has been one simple question: what will the search results the future how changes detailed in two eye tracking results conducted by page look like in 2010? Of course, implied within may impact both the Enquiro. But all that could change in the very near this question is what will our search experience be user experience and ef- future as search engines become bolder in intro- like in 2010? And that’s perhaps the bigger ques- tion. What screen will it be happening on? Withfective strategies to intercept those users.” ducing innovation into the search results page in- what intent will we be using it? terface. For example, how will increased relevancy impact This white paper not only brings together the vari- our interaction with search results? As personaliza- ous opinions from each of these industry influen- tion starts to provide the opportunity to determine cers and attempts to draw out some consistent relevancy not just by comparing it to a keyword but themes, it actually goes two steps further. We also comparing it to the intent of the user, will this took all the input we received from these experts result in a significantly different level of interaction and aggregated them into a picture of what the with the search results page? And with the intro- search results page might look like in 2010. Then duction of more types of results on the default we conducted an internal eye tracking test here at page, will we be engaged with these results in a Enquiro to see what impact things like a dramati- different manner? Will the mixing of text based cally new interface, a richer presentation of adver- website results and image-based video results tising messages, a greater degree of relevancy change how we navigate our way through those based on access to personal information and an results? Will advertising presented on the search aggregation of different types of results on the 4 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 5. same page might have on the average user. We crepancy in the degree of optimism about howconducted a series of eye tracking tests on differ- much the search experience will change in threeent types of search results pages, including a typi- years. Jakob Nielsen was probably our most prag-cal results page with universal results (as they’re matic respondent, indicating he doesn’t expect anycurrently being implemented on Google), personal- significant changes in the three-year framework.ized results as they may look in the next 12 Nevertheless he did speculate on three areas wheremonths, Ask’s 3D Search, and finally, our view of we could see innovation. Contrast this with predic-what the search results page might look like in tions of rich Ajax functionality, mash ups and2010 based on the input we received from all our multi-touch displays.experts. We’ve included the results from these eyetracking tests in this report. What we’ll do within this white paper is take all the input we received from the interviews and group “There is, without a doubt, great passionFinally, we share our thoughts about what useful them into a number of common themes. For any- about the future of search and we stronglystrategies might be for search marketers in the one interested in reading the full transcripts of the believe that the next three years will rep-future. How do you successfully position yourself interviews, these are posted on Gord Hotchkiss’sto take advantage of the innovations being intro- Out of my Gord blog. resent the most exciting era yet in theduced by the search engines? How do you ensure short history of web search.”that your message will be seen on a much richer, The eye tracking studiesmuch more functional search results page? Of course, given our research bent and our pastWe believe you’ll find the insights presented fasci- history with eye tracking, one couldn’t expect us tonating. It was a question that all our respondents speculate on what a search results page might lookwarmed up to and showed great enthusiasm for. like in 2010 without wondering how a user mightThere is, without a doubt, great passion about the navigate that same page. What we wanted to dofuture of search and we strongly believe that the was create some comparisons of what interactionsnext three years will represent the most exciting may look like given some of the innovation that’sera yet in the short history of web search. creeping onto the page. We set up an internal test- ing framework that created four different versionsSearch Engine Results: 2010 of similar sets of search results. First of all, we recorded interactions with the results pages to rep-The choice of 2010 as the target date for our resent the current user experience on Google. Wespeculation was more a matter of looking for a nice gave our participants scenarios that would result inround number than any deliberate thought, but as the presentation of universal search results.it turned out, the setting of the three-year horizonproved to be an interesting one. It was just far Then, we presented scenarios and (based on pastenough ahead that it was difficult to extrapolate history and comments from participants) createdbased on current work being done at the engines, personalized results in a slightly more aggressiveyet it wasn’t far enough out to allow for total blue presentation than that currently seen on Google.sky brainstorming. Almost without exception allour interviewees made comment about how chal- Finally, we took all the input from all our interviewslenging they found the three-year framework to and asked our designer, Cory Bates, to put to-predict within. It forced us to balance practicality gether a sample of what a search results pagewith bold predictions. might look like in 2010. We presented the results to our participants and recorded interactions usingDespite this, there was an amazing amount of dis- our eye tracking system. 5Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 6. Methodology Methodology • Preferred search engine is Google, and, Objectives • Informed consent given by each individual to track their web history over a period of a three The overall objective of the study is to compare individual eye tracking sessions. universal search against personalized search using Google’s Search Engine. Specifically the questions Universal Search we want to answer are the following: Each person was given three tasks to research an • Does personalization have an effect on the iPhone, Harry Potter and the Spice Girls. These time spent on a SERP? tasks were chosen because of the presence of uni- versal Google results (video, blogs, news, images, • The hypothesis is that personalized search re- etc.). sults will increase time spent on a SERP due to the increased relevancy in the results. Task Scenarios • What is the search behavior on a multi-paned You have been hearing a lot about Apples new site, ASK.com versus Google? iPhone recently and would like to know if its some- thing you should invest in. Use the following set of • Does the scan pattern vary depending on the results to learn more about it. user’s commercial or non-commercial intent for 2010 SERP? What is the user interaction? The new Harry Potter movie, "The Order of the Phoenix" is due to come out in the next few weeks and you have a 10 year old nephew that would like Rationale for Study Design nothing more than to watch it with you. Use the following set of results to decide if he is old In order to investigate the above objectives we enough to watch it. chose to focus on Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). This engine was chosen so that com- This just in! The Spice Girls have decided to re- parisons can be made to previous baseline eye unite for a worldwide tour later this year. This tracking results. This involved a series of related news has "train wreck" written all over it and you eye tracking tasks to test engagement of users cant wait to get a ticket. Use the following set of with universal, personalized, ASK.com and a futur- results to learn more about their upcoming tour. istic rendition of what a 2010 SERP may look like. Limitations of the study included users giving con- Personalization sent to track their web history. Each person was logged into a single secured Google Account to track web history on a Google Eye Tracking Methodology Details search for iPhones. The URLs for all the pages they viewed were analyzed and selected based on a few Panel recruitment: factors: time spent on different online media (news, customer reviews, local results, blogs, and • 16 people between the ages of 24 and 55, sponsored sites such as the Apple Store) and the purchase phase of their search.6 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 7. Google SERP pages were then mocked up for eachperson depending on where they finished off theirlast search. The positions that were personalizedwere Top Sponsored #2 (stayed consistent for eachperson – “iPhone in Canada”) and Organic results 3,4 and 5.Each person was presented their personalizedsearch results page and we tracked eye movementand engagement with the personalized and non-personalized content on the page.Task ScenariosAssume you are interested in learning more aboutthe iPhone and so, have performed a search foriPhone on Google. Interact with the following pagelayout and click on the item that you would click-through on.Assume you are interested in purchasing the iPhoneand so, have performed a search for iPhone onGoogle. Interact with the following page layout andclick on the item that you would click-through on.ASKSimilarly, to measure fixations and time spent on amulti-paned search engine, each person was askedto search for Harry Potter on ASK.com.2010All users were asked to review the 2010 SERP andwere presented one of two mock-ups that was de-pendant on whether they were in the research orpurchase phase of the buying process. 7Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 8. The Interviewees Jakob Nielsen Larry Cornett Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., is Larry Cornett is Vice “If I ever had to build a a User Advocate and President of Search Ex- search engine, or more principal of the Nielsen perience at Yahoo! Before precisely, the interface Norman Group which he that, he led the eBay team co-founded with Dr. focused on Tailored Shop- of a search engine, this Donald A. Norman ping Experiences, Plat- would be the team I (former VP of research form, and International would want to bring at Apple Computer). sites. He Apple’s designer together.” Until 1998 he was a Sun for the Finder in Mac OS Microsystems Distin- 8, 9, and OS X and guished Engineer. worked at IBM working on database and develop- ment software. He was a principal consultant at an Dr. Nielsen founded the "discount usability engi- interaction design agency he founded, working on neering" movement for fast and cheap improve- desktop, web, and mobile solutions. He received ments of user interfaces and has invented several his Ph.D. in HCI Psychology from Rice University usability methods, including heuristic evaluation. and holds multiple patents for his work on web- He holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways based products and hardware solutions. of making the Internet easier to use. Marissa Mayer Greg Sterling Marissa leads the prod- Greg Sterling is the found- uct management efforts ing principal of Sterling on Googles search prod- Market Intelligence, a con- ucts She joined Google sulting and research firm in 1999 as Googles first focused on the Internets female engineer. Several impact on local consumer patents have been filed and advertisers behavior. on her work in artificial He also is a Senior Analyst intelligence and inter- for Local Mobile Search, an face design. advisory service from Opus Research. Prior to joining Google, Marissa worked at the UBS research lab (Ubilab) in Zurich, Switzerland and at Before Sterling Market Intelligence, Sterling ran The SRI International in Menlo Park, California. Kelsey Groups Interactive Local Media program. Prior to The Kelsey Group, Sterling was at TechTV Graduating with honors, Marissa received her B.S. where he helped produce "Working the Web," a na- in Symbolic Systems and her M.S. in Computer Sci- tional television show dedicated to e-business and ence from Stanford University. For both degrees, the Internet. Before TechTV he was a founding edi- she specialized in artificial intelligence. tor and executive producer at AllBusiness.com.8 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 9. Michael Ferguson Chris Sherman Michael Ferguson is Sen- Chris Sherman is Execu- ior User Experience Ana- tive Editor of SearchEn- lyst for Ask.com. Look- gineLand.com and Presi- ing at motivations, be- dent of Searchwise LLC, a havior, and experience Boulder Colorado based through culture, technol- Web consulting firm. He ogy, and psychology, he is the author of a number informs product develop- of books on search en- ment with user context gines and programming,Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid and design strategy. including “Google Power: Before joining Ask, Mi- Unleash the Full Power of Google” and “The Invisi-chael ran an interactive design agency with clients ble Web: Uncovering Information Sources Searchthat included Oracle and Stanfords Graduate Engines Can’t See” (with Gary Price). Chris holds aSchool of Business, as well as independent film masters degree in Interactive Educational Technol-makers and film festivals. Michael holds a B.A. in ogy from Stanford University and a bachelors de-British and American Literature from New College gree in Visual Arts and Communications from theof Florida. University of California, San Diego. Danny Sullivan Justin Osmer Widely considered a Sr. Product Manager, Live leading "search engine Search, Microsoft Corp.. guru," Danny Sullivan Justin’s career started in has helped many under- the early 1990’s as a stand how search en- communications profes- gines work for over a sional and he first worked decade. Danny has been in Search in the late 90’s quoted in The Wall St. on the “client side” manu- Journal, USA Today, The ally submitting URL’s to Los Angeles Times, Yahoo!, AltaVista, and Forbes, The New Yorker Excite. Since that time heand Newsweek and ABCs Nightline. Danny began has been in multiple marketing communicationscovering search engines in late 1995 with "A Web- and product management roles across multiplemasters Guide To Search Engines," later expanding industries and is currently in his fourth year at Mi-the guide into Search Engine Watch, serving as edi- crosoft. As Sr. Product Manager on Search Justintor-in-chief through November 2006. Now he heads works with the Live Search engineering and devel-up Search Engine Land as editor-in-chief, taking it opment team as well as the marketing team to de-into the next generation of search coverage. Danny velop and introduce the Microsoft Web Search ex-is also Third Door Medias chief content officer. perience to millions worldwide. 9Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 10. Search: 2010 If I ever had to build a search engine, or more pre- to the page. We have some sponsored ads on top, ten blue organic links and generally some spon- cisely, the interface of a search engine, this would sored ads on the left side. It’s a very linear formatThe Interviews be the team I would want to bring together. When I came up with the idea of looking forward three that runs from top to bottom and is almost always years and speculating on what the search results composed exclusively of text. And although this page may look like in 2010, these are the names format has refined itself over the past decade, that immediately came to mind: there haven’t been any significant changes to the look. Will that continue to be true in the next three Jakob Nielsen, the Web’s best-known usability years? guru Marissa Mayer: I think it will be, hopefully, a lay- Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search User out that’s a little bit less linear and text based, Experience and interface design even than our search results today and ultimately use what I call the ‘sea of whiteness’ more in the Michael Ferguson, one of the architects of middle of the page, and lays out in a more infor- “It’s a huge dominant user be- Ask’s unique user experience mation dense way all the information from videos havior to scan a linear list and Larry Cornett, the VP of user experience at to audio reels to text, and so on and so forth. So if so this attempt to put other Yahoo you imagine the results page, instead of being long and linear, and having ten results on the page that things on the side, to tamper Justin Osmer, product manager for Microsoft you can scroll through to having ten very heteroge- with the true layout, the true lie search neous results, where we show each of those resultsdesign of the page, to move from it being in a form that really suits their medium, and in a Chris Sherman, executive editor of Searchen- more condensed format. When you started seeingjust a list, it’s going to be difficult” gineland and always thoughtful industry ob- some diagrams, some video, some news, some server charts, you might actually have a page that looks Greg Sterling, another industry analyst who and feels more like an interactive encyclopedia. To always has interesting insights, particularly in keep hounding on the analogy of the front page of to the local and mobile world the New York Times. It’s not like the New York Times…I mean they have basically the same layout Danny Sullivan, the Go to Guy of search each time, but it’s not like they have a column that only has this kind of content, and if it doesn’t fill This would be the dream team for designing the the column, too bad. They have a basic format new search interface. So it was with a great deal of that they change as it suits the information. anticipation that I threw the same question in front of all of them : What will the search results page Jakob Nielsen: There could be small changes, look like in 2010? Here, aggregated and con- there could be big changes. I don’t think big densed, are their answers. Ive broken them into changes. The small changes are, potentially, a themes that consistently came out in these inter- change from the one dimensional linear layout to views. more of a two dimensional layout with different types of information, presented in different parts The look of the search results page of the page so you could have more of a newspaper metaphor in terms of the layout. I’m not sure if The search results page has defined itself into an that’s going to happen. It’s a huge dominant user accepted standard. With the exception of Ask3D, behavior to scan a linear list and so this attempt to all the other major players have a very similar look put other things on the side, to tamper with the 10 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 11. true layout, the true design of the page, to move ies; we recently launched travel and, most recentlyfrom it being just a list, it’s going to be difficult, music, so music artists. And essentially thatsbut I think it’s a possibility. There’s a lot of things, bringing a lot of very useful information from dif-types of information that the search engines are ferent sources together in one place. And so userscrunching on, and one approach is to unify them dont have to click and go one place to see theall into one list based on it’s best guess as to rele- trailer, click and go to another place to see infor-vance or importance or whatever, and that is what mation about the movie and ratings, click to yetI think is most likely to happen. But it could also be another place to get show times for their local city.that they decide to split it up, and say, well, out Its actually all brought to the user in one compacthere to the right we’ll put shopping results, and out module so its all that information that they wouldhere to the left we’ll put news results, and down find useful in one place. I cant speak to whathere at the bottom we’ll put pictures, and so forth, Google is up to but they obviously must realize thatand I think that’s a possibility. a home page with nothing but a search box isnt quite serving everything that people want. AndLarry Cornett:The search experience is becoming a they launched iGoogle, obviously, for that reason.lot more interactive, its a lot more of a dynamic “The search experience is be-experience and we’re all experimenting with bring- So let’s venture one step further. What if this coming a lot more interactive,ing back a lot of richer content. And rich meta search portal, iGoogle, let’s us enter a query and it its a lot more of a dynamic ex-data, structured data, much more than we ever builds a page for us which appears as a new tab,were doing before. Its going beyond the simple complete with a mix of results, based on the en- perience and we’re all experi-text title and abstract and URL, right. gine’s understanding of where we’re at and what menting with bringing back a lot our intent is. I put that to Justin Osmer (without the of richer content. ” iGoogle part):Does search become our own personal portalpage? Justin Osmer: Yes, I can see that very easily. And we’ve just scratched the surface on that withAs search engines get to know us better, do they live.com. You can set up a personalized page onbecome our home page for everything? Do search live.com and pull in search results. You can set itengines get smart enough to bring together all the up so that it queries news results for you everyday.information we need about any topic, at our re- You get fresh news results on a query that you al-quest, and organize it into a rich portal like page ways search on, you can bring in all sorts of RSSthat gives us a jumping off point into a number of feeds from literally the whole web, so you’re con-different types of content. It used to be that stantly getting updates of feeds very easily and yousearch was a “get on, get off” task but increasingly, can subscribe to an interest area of search and getsearch is becoming a stickier experience. Google, that populated for yourself. That absolutely is aprobably the clearest example of the “tool based” scenario that makes a lot of sense.approach to search, has recently acknowledged theimportance of personalized homepages with theintroduction of iGoogle, moving them much closer Search as a social experienceto a Yahoo type model. Personalization has somewhat pushed social searchLarry Cornett: I think one place that you’ve seen to the back burner as a promise for the future. Butus doing a bit of that is with what we call our WOW increasingly, the social nature of the web is con-experiences. And so we launched a few of the mov- verging with search in more and more cases. Willies, its like a direct display; its a really rich direct the next three years see a furthering of this conver-display on the search page. Weve launched mov- gence and the blending of Web communities and 11Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 12. search functionality? Larry Cornett: And thats having more of a human Smarter search engines influence and obviously more of a human presence in the search experience. Youll see that quite a bit Another major theme was not so much what search with the way that StumbleUpon has been working, engines would look like but how they would get the things that weve done with image search with smarter in the background. Driving this would be a tighter integration of Flickr images and really factors like personalization and tweaking of algo- showing the attribution that those photographs rithms. coming from real people within the network. Larry’s comment made me think of a future where Personalization we may stay within our favorite online communities more and look for search functionality to be Talk of personalization has pretty much dominated brought into that environment. And in that environ- the search engine space for the last two or three “I dont really see any kind of ment, will search become more of a discovery tool months. Our panel seems somewhat split on the dramatic breakthrough on the then a navigational tool? Will search leverage the promise of personalization to significantly move benefits of the community to help make sugges- the needle on relevance in the next three years. horizon...And its not because tions in less task focused situations? people aren’t trying, its because Chris Sherman: I dont really see any kind of dra- of those inherent ambiguities in Larry Cornett: You talk about Facebook, you talk matic breakthrough on the horizon. I think as longlanguage.” about some of these other examples where people as we’re limited to the current search form factor, may have a fuzzier information need or a different if you will, where we’re encouraged to do the juke- type of desire for information. In many cases, im- box approach, where we punch in a few keywords, age search for example, people use it for entertain- pull the lever and hope to get the jackpot. Lan- ment and so theyre using it to pass the time or guage is so inherently ambiguous that as good as theyre just curious. And in those cases, its not the search engine gets, as good as they are at ob- like they have really specific targeted goals in mind serving our behavior and our habits of reading and or very specific queries in mind even, but theyre so on, being limited to those very, very short que- pretty open to being given information, so youll ries, thats really the governor on the whole thing. see that with Facebook, a lot of that is you coming Until search engines can find a way to let us in and just understanding whats going on within search, for example, by submitting a page of con- your network and that activity. And so youre tent and analyzing the full text of that page and learning about things that you may not have even then tying that in conjunction with our past behav- formed a query about. Your friends telling you ior, thats just one approach, theres a whole vari- about a new website that you wouldnt even know ety of ways we can go about doing it, but I just to ask about on a search engine. You discover it dont see any thing major. And its not because because he tells you about it. StumbleUpon is very people aren’t trying, its because of those inherent similar in that you want to see what people con- ambiguities in language. sider to be quality content and you dont know ex- actly what youre looking for, but you just press the Danny Sullivan: I think personalized search is go- stumble button and see what are people thinking is ing to continue to get strong. I do think that interesting right now. So this is definitely, I think, Google is on to something with their personalized a lot of convergence in some of these areas. search results. I don’t think that they’re going to cause you to be in an Amazon situation where 12 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 13. you’re continuing to be recommended stuff you’re ingful difference.no longer interested in. I think that people are mis-understanding how sophisticated it can be. Larry Cornett: I think we’re just barely on the tip of the iceberg with how useful it could be. I thinkJakob Nielsen: All this stuff, all this talk about per- traditional approaches to personalization have re-sonalization, is incredibly hard to do. Partly be- quired a lot of work on the part of the user and Icause it’s not just personalization, based on a user think, just given my experience over the past yearsmodel, which is hard enough already. You have to in various places, at different companies and work-guess that this person prefers this style of content ing for software and the Web, people dont like toand so on. But furthermore, you have to guess as spend a lot of time configuring their preferences.to what this person’s “in this minute” interest is So anytime you try to take an easier approach andand that is almost impossible to do. I’m not too say I’ll let the user customize experience or person-optimistic on the ability to do that. In many ways I alize it, itll work for a small number of users thatthink the web provides self personalization, you care to invest but the large majority dont want toknow, self service personalization. I show you my have spend a lot of time doing that. So I think thenavigational scheme of things you can do on my key to personalization is actually finding a way to “My point of view is that there issite and you pick the one you want today, and the do that in a way that requires very low investment a PR and political challengejob of the web designer is to, first of all, design from the user and it has a lot of return. And so it’s around privacy and the so calledchoices that adequately meet common user needs, finding that balance of trying to get that just rightand secondly, simply explain these choices so peo- so that the user gets a lot more value than they creep factor that people feelple can make the right ones for them. And that’s have to put energy into it. when they think that the enginewhat most sites do very poorly. Both of those two is studying them and monitoring their be-steps are done very poorly on most corporate web- I then asked Larry if 3 years was too short a time havior and that record somehow makessites. But when it’s done well, that leads to people for personalization to make a significant differ- them vulnerable or makes them uncom-being able to click–click and they have what they ence:want, because they know what they want, and its fortable. ”very difficult for the computer to guess what they Larry Cornett: You know, in the past I mightvewant in this minute. said yes but I think theres an increasing pace of change that’s occurred within this industry. And IGreg Sterling: I think there are some technical is- think that three years is not too long, within thesues like, what does it mean, and what does that next three years I think well definitely have a lotlook like. You and I doing the same queries over a more answers and I think theres so many peopleperiod of time, what would our results look like? Is that are springing up in this space, playing aroundthere a real benefit there for us? We could probably with all these startup experiences for search thatargue in some cases yes, I would point to the local the velocity definitely increase. I think thats wellas an example. I think there is a political challenge, see something soon.right? My point of view is that there is a PR andpolitical challenge around privacy and the so called Justin Osmer brought up a variation on personal-creep factor that people feel when they think that ization with mode based search, where enginesthe engine is studying them and monitoring their become smarter at unraveling the intent of thebehavior and that record somehow makes them user:vulnerable or makes them uncomfortable. But I dothink it is a potentially significant advance in cer- Justin: An area that we’re focusing on over here attain contexts, if it really goes to disambiguation. Live search is thinking more about the mode inYes, I think in certain cases it does make a mean- which people are in when they’re using search. 13Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 14. Are they exploring, just kind of poking around, or truly researching something? Are they looking to purchase something? Are they in there simply for entertainment refreshment sake? So they just need five minutes to goof off and poke around and look Is Google holding a number of personalization up vacations or something. Then being able to cards up their sleeve? present the results in a way that give you that full spectrum of experience, so that the modes of con- So obviously, the opinions on the effectiveness of sumption will dictate how much you get in line, so personalization are mixed. But I can’t help won- the verticals in essence will become obsolete. The dering if Google is holding a significant portion of same rich content that you might get in a vertical the effectiveness of their personalization algorithm experience may be brought inline or brought onto in reserve, pending further testing on the beta the results page in a way that shows you, wow, the dataset they’re currently collecting. I posed this search engine really does have more here, in a possibility to Chris Sherman. unique way. Chris: I suspect that theres probably quite a bit Osmer said this “mode identification” could be ac- more that theyre not showing but I dont know that complished in a few ways, including personaliza- it’s necessarily that theyre being secretive. I think tion: theres caution that changing things too much might alienate the searcher with the search results. Justin: I think we’re getting close to a tipping point I think if they got things that they are able to do, on personalization where people are going to figure we’ll start to see them gradually, in a testing fash- out that, “Wow, I can get a lot more out of my ion, where a few users will be exposed to it and search experience if I tell the search engine more over time, yes, theyll be rolled out. But honestly, I about me.” And so it may require some one-time dont know, thats just speculation on my part. But setup time charge to you, to go in and say you like with the number of people that are working on this this or you don’t like this, or you want this or you stuff, they probably have tons of stuff that theyre don’t want this, or simply just clicking a box that not showing us. says “Yes, I okay the search engine to track my queries, or look at my clickstream and give me Search driven by Query Trends more relevant information or I want to participate in a beta product that allows me to tell the search Danny Sullivan brought up the fact that search en- engine what I’m looking for so it can learn more gines, with their access to query volumes and about me or people like me. trends, should be able to alter the results for ex- traordinary circumstances: The other way would be by using the query itself as a determiner: Danny: I think they’re going to get a lot more intel- ligent at giving you more from a particular data- Justin: We know what the super popular queries base when they know you’re doing a specific a kind are on a day-to-day basis and usually they fall into of search. It’s not necessarily an interface change, a category and so if we know the “Paris Hilton”, but then again it is. This is the thing I talked about that’s an area where you’re probably in an enter- when the London Car Bombing attempt happened, tainment mode and so we would try and offer up a and I’m searching for “London Bombings”. When user experience of search results page that would you see a spike in certain words you ought to know be more tuned that way that there’s a reason behind that spike. It’s going14 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 15. to be news driven probably, so why are you giving through application or operating system integra-me 10 search results, why don’t you give me 10 tion. Not surprisingly, this was brought up bynews results? Justin Osmer from Microsoft, who has long been promising this integration. Chris Sherman alsoWill usefulness become part of a search algo- brought it up as another signal to disambiguaterithm? intent:A tantalizing tidbit of prediction was touched on by Justin: From a Microsoft perspective, also beinga few different people, notably Jakob Nielsen and able (when you’re in Office) to search while you’reMarissa Mayer. As we begin interacting with our writing a Word document; to just do a right-clicksearch results and websites, will the notion of use- and boom, you’re searching on the term you justfulness be factored into future search algorithms? highlighted. And you’re able to set up a searchJakob Nielsen brought up the possibility. default to whatever engine you want. Some of that technology is there today but we’re going to beJakob: I think we can see a change maybe being a doing more and more that I think.more of a usefulness relevance ranking. I thinkthere is a tendency now for a lot of not very useful Chris: Until search engines can find a way let usresults to be dredged up that happen to be very search by submitting a page of content and analyz-popular, like Wikipedia and various blogs. They’re ing the full text of that page and then tying that innot going to be very useful or substantial to people conjunction with our past behavior, thats just onewho are trying to solve problems. So I think that approach.with counting links and all of that, there may be achange and we may go into a more behavioral The semantic search engine?judgment as to which sites actually solve people’sproblems, and they will tend to be more highly When will Web 2.0 come to search? To this point,ranked. search is still a fairly rudimentary experience, com- pared to the innovation seen through the rest ofAnd then, without prompting, Marissa Mayer indi- the web. The text based presentation and the typi-cated this may be in Google’s thinking in the future cal blue hyperlinks look more like the web of 1996as well. She talked about people marking up than the web of 2007. Will that change in the nextsearch results and webpages and interacting with three years? Well, it actually has already started tothem in a way that indicated that they found them change. The experience presented on Ask3Duseful and valuable. Search rolls in much more functionality than we’ve typically seen on a search results page. And thisMarissa: I think the presentation is going to be seems to be acting as a catalyst for all the searchlargely based on our perceived notion of relevance, engines to look at rolling in more functionality.which of course leverages the user, in the ways Ajax and other richer programming environmentsthey interact with the page, and looks at what they will make the user experience more intuitive anddo and that helps inform us as to what we should seamless.do. Marissa: We will be able to have much more richContextual Search interaction with the search results pages, there might be layers of search results pages: take myAnother area of innovation is launching a search results and show them on a map, take my resultsfrom within the context of a task or an application and show them to me on a timeline. It’s basically 15Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 16. the ability to interact in a really fast way, and take topic for that decade”. They just help you visualize the results you have and see them in a new light. the nut of information across all the results in these fundamentally different ways that ‘sort’ kind of gets at. But it’s really allowing that richer pres- entation and that overview of results on the meta But it’s not just search engine results pages that level that helps you see it. Marissa sees a higher level of interaction with. She sees a deeper or more interactive experience with Danny Sullivan also touched on the same theme: all web pages by being able to annotate and markup pages for future reference. Danny: I think the most dramatic change in how we present search results, really has come off of Marissa: I think that people will be annotating local. And people go “wow, these maps are really search results pages and web pages a lot. They’re cool!” Well of course they’re really cool, they’re pre- going to be rating them, they’re going to be review- senting information on a map which makes sense ing them. They’re going to be marking them up, when we’re talking about local information. You saying “I want to come back to this one later”. So want things displayed in that kind of manner. It we have some remedial forms of this in terms of doesn’t make sense to take all web search results Notebook now, but I imagine that we’re going to and put them on a map. You could do it, but it make notes right on the pages later. People are doesn’t communicate additional information for going to be able to say I want to add a note here; I you that’s probably irrelevant and that needs to be want to Google something there, and you’ll be able presented in a visual manner. If you think about to do that. the other kinds of search that you tend to do, Blog search for instance, it may be that there’s going to Marissa Mayer also talks about the ability to sort be a more chronological display, much like what we results based on different dimensions, such as lo- saw them do with news archive where they would cation and time. do a search and they would tell you this happened within these years at this time. Right now when I Marissa: What I’m sort of imagining is that in the do a Google blog search, by default it shows me first basic search, you’re presented with a really ‘most relevant’. But sometimes I want to know rich general overview page, that interweaves all what the most recent thing is, and what’s the most these different mediums, and on that page you recent thing that’s also the most relevant thing have a few basic controls, so you could say, look, right? So perhaps when I do a Google blog search, I what really matters to me is the time dimension, or can see something running down the left hand side what really matters to me is the location dimen- that says “last hour” and within the last hour you sion. So you want to see it on a timeline, do you show me the most relevant things in the last hour, want to see it on a map? It’s a richer experience. the last 4 hours, and then the last day. And you What’s nice about timeline and date (as we’re cur- could present it that way, almost sort of a timeline rently experimenting with them on Google Experi- metaphor, I’m sure there are probably things you mental) is not only do they allow you to sort differ- could do with shading and other stuff to go along ently, they allow you to visualize your results dif- with that. ferently. So if you see your results on a map, you can see the loci, so you can see this location is im- …if you really want to talk about search interfaces, portant to this query, and that location is really what will be really fun to envision is what happens important to that query. And when you look at it when Ajax starts coming along and doing other in time line you can see, “wow, this is a really hot things. Can I start putting the sponsored search16 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 17. results where they are hovering above other re- think well see search results actually changed dy-sults? Is there another issue that comes with that? namically in real time as we apply those variousThere may be some confusion as to why I was get- tools.ting this and I was getting that, can I pop up a mapas I hover over a result? I could deliver you a stan-dard set of search results and I can also deliveryou local results on top of a particular type of pic- Danny Sullivan feels it depends on the task.ture. If I move my mouse along it I could show youa preview of what you get in local and you might Danny: If you’re just doing a general search, Igo “Oh wow, there’s a whole map there” and jump don’t think that putting a whole lot of functionalityoff in that direction. That would be quite useful to is going to help you, you could put a lot of optionssee that stuff come off of there. But right now I there and historically we haven’t seen people usejust don’t see anything coming out of it. What we those things, and I think that’s because they justtypically have had when people have played with want to do their searches. They want you to justthe interface is, these really weird things like, ‘well naturally get the right kind of information that’swe’ll fly you though the results, or we’ll group there and a lot of the time they give you that directthem’. None of which is really something that answer. You don’t need to do a lot of manipula-you’d need added to the choices, do I want to go “I think what they might do is tion. It’s a different thing I think when you get intovertical, do I not want to go vertical? a lot of vertical, very task orientated kinds of start to expose some of those searches, where you’re saying, ‘I don’t just need algorithms and some of thoseMore of a hands-on experience with greater the quick answer, I don’t just need to browse and knobs and dials to let us dial-functionality exposed to users see all the things that are out there, but actually up or dial-out with certain per- I’m trying to drill down on this subject in a particu-The nature of our interaction with the search re- lar way’. Local tends to be a great example. ‘Now sonalization features and fine-tune theirsults page is fairly static. We look and we click. you’ve given me all the results that match the zip search results using controls that areAny attempt to incorporate more functionality on code, but really I would like to narrow it down into more similar to what youd find on Photo-the results page, in the form of filtering options, a neighborhood, so how can I do that?’ Or a shop- shop where weve got sliders and dolls orhas been met, on the most part, with apathy from ping search. ‘I have a lot of results but now I want various graphic displays.”users. Even the advanced search functionality to buy something, so now I need to know who has itthat’s been around for over a decade is used by a in inventory? Now I really need to know who has itvery small percentage of users. Are we ready as cheapest? And I need to know who’s the mostusers to get our hands on the buttons and dials trusted merchant?’ Then I think the searcher isthat could fine-tune our search? Will search be- going to be willing to do more work on the searchcome more of an interactive experience? and make use of more of the options that you give to them.Chris Sherman saw us getting our hands on thebuttons and levers that power personalization: Jakob Nielsen believes it’s a possibility, but one he’s not too optimistic about:Chris: I think what they might do is start to exposesome of those algorithms and some of those knobs Jakob: The third one is to add more tools to theand dials to let us dial-up or dial-out with certain search interface to provide query reformulationpersonalization features and fine-tune their search and query refinement options. I’m also very skepti-results using controls that are more similar to cal about this, because this has been tried a lot ofwhat youd find on Photoshop where weve got slid- times and it has always failed. If you go back anders and dolls or various graphic displays. And I look at old screen shots of all of the different 17Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 18. search engines that have been out there over the stuff and I think that in the light of keyword query last 15 years or so, there have been a lot of at- string lengths, which has stagnated I think, I don’t tempts to do things like this. People are basically know where the high point of the bell curve is…it’s lazy, and this makes sense. The basic information like two or three words. Norvig talks about getting foraging theory, which is, I think, the one theory people to interact more with the search engine so that basically explains why the web is the way it is, the result can be better right and he’s saying…he’s says that people want to expend minimal effort to sort of admitting with his implied conversation gain their benefits. And this is an evolutionary about speech recognition or speech input that you point that has come about because the creatures can’t really get people to formulate these coherent who don’t exert themselves are the ones most likely questions or longer query strings and you have to to survive when there are bad times or a crisis of find alternative strategies so some mix of active some kind. So people are inherently lazy and don’t solicitation or tools that make it fun or interesting want to exert themselves. Picking from a set of and then passive personalization or other strategies choices is one of the least effortful interaction styles to get people a better result. which is why this point and click interaction in gen- “I think this will be true in eral seems to work very well. Whereas, tweaking Stratification of user functionality 2010, the text results are still sliders or operating pull-down menus and all that stuff, is just more work. So, if the search engine is going to ask more of us a very important visual part as users, in return for giving us greater control over of the page. They do not nec- Michael Ferguson: It’s our job to go out of our way defining our search experience, will we run into the essarily look as sexy as some to make something as quickly navigable and easy to same problem we currently have with advanced video or some audio but that use as possible without [users] having to make any search? Will those features only appeal to a smallis the core of the experience and that’s effort or set preferences, etc. We are always fo- percentage of users who are comfortable rolling up cused on what is the fastest flow for people to get to their sleeves and interacting with the engine? Andwhy we still have those in the prominent the core of what they are trying to get to out of the will this mean that well have two versions ofplacing that we do. So my sense is you’re search results, so as far as bringing more steps search, one for power users and one for the rest ofnot going to be able to ask the users to do onto the page …it has to be done with respect to the us?work, their footsteps will walk to the ex- users intent and goals and really cannot competeperience that is most delightful and easy with that. I think this will be true in 2010, the text Chris Sherman: I dont think so. I think most people results are still a very important visual part of the live with the results that they get. Right now, todayfor them to use. page. They do not necessarily look as sexy as some we have advanced search and nobody uses it. video or some audio but that is the core of the ex- There are a lot of tools are really allow power users perience and that’s why we still have those in the to get in and do a lot of fine-tuning of their queries prominent placing that we do. So my sense is and Id say less than 1%, actually take advantage of you’re not going to be able to ask the users to do that functionality. So I think as we evolve and those work, their footsteps will walk to the experience tools do surface, youre still have the vast majority that is most delightful and easy for them to use. of people happy with the result that they get but its still going to be that 1% of people that are currently Greg Sterling: You will get more participation if it’s using advanced search that will take advantage of easy, if it’s fun, if it’s effective and makes the ex- the surfacing of those capabilities. But, that said, if perience better. If I do travel research and I can they make it easy enough so its more like doing quickly capture and copy and save hotels, destina- something like playing around with Photoshop or tions or whatever and manipulate and come back to some of the other graphics editors and its intui- those, that kind of thing is valuable. But you make tively obvious then we might see people gradually a fair point about putting a burden on users to do start gravitating towards that and taking advan- 18 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 19. tage of those tools.Justin Osmer: There will always be the one-size-fits-all option, just based on pure market dynamicsand the size of it, the head and the tail of the Web Will search go mobile in three years?and all those other factors. To tackle the head andto get most of the queries that everybody, Joe aver- Nobody disputes the potential of mobile search.age person, is looking for you’ll need to have a sim- The question seems to be whether search willplified version or potentially, what’s available now, move to the mobile platform in a meaningful wayas a search experience, what people have come to in the next three years. Interestingly, there wereexpect. And I think we all, in the industry, agree more than a few references to the iPhone as thethat 0where we are today is great but it’s been a current standard in mobile computing.little stale for awhile and being able to level that upa bit and make some major inroads in improve- Chris Sherman: I dont think were going to see aments there, is something that we’re definitely on wholesale migration, I think its going to be verythe verge of doing. And it may start as some sort similar to what we have in other types of devices.of opt in option or maybe it’s just the separate We started with radio, with the box, and everyonewebsite or a separate engine that’s doing that. Or sat around in the living room and then when themaybe, at some point, it becomes just a toggle be- car was invented we suddenly had mobile radio.tween two different ones, so it brings up live.com Its really the same thing, its just being used inand you get to pick what engine you want, the tur- different places, depending on where were going. Ibocharged version or do you want a slimmed down think theres ultimately going to be a hard-core ofversion? The challenge has always been when users, much like Blackberry users are today, thatyou’re talking about the early adopters and the will shift their focus from the desktop to the mobilereal technical elite and the heavy searchers, a lot device but just inherently in the size of most mobileof those folks would love to use that but, in the devices theres a lot of restrictions. Even thegrand scheme of things, it’s a pretty small portion iPhone is, as good as webpage rendering is on that,of the population. its still tiny. And I think a lot of people just arent going to be comfortable using that interface as aGreg Sterling: I would point to the iGoogle home primary way that they access the Web.page and classic Google as validation of that point.I think that the Yahoo homepage becoming person- Larry Cornett: I think weve already had somealized but I think that Google in particular has bi- pretty decent success that you’ve seen, with ourfurcated its search experience. They claim iGoogle, OneSearch experience on the phone. I think thatwhich is a version of personalization because you whats nice about where that’s going is that itsset up all the feeds and widgets and gadgets and actually thinking about how do I structure this in-so on. It’s the fastest growing product they’ve got formation so that its easy to interact with and con-there. Now the real numbers are going to be minis- sume on a small screen device. I have an iPhonecule compared to classic Google so I think you are and even with the iPhone, with a much largerright that there is some kind of segmentation that screen, its a great experience but you still dontmay emerge where you have a class of power users want a full webpage. Its not that fun to play withthat take full advantage of a bunch of tools and and try to zoom around and scroll. So when youyou have those who use the defaults and don’t do look at these experiences that are tailored for amuch in the way of interacting with the engines mobile service, its a much different kind of experi- ence and you really have to take into consideration 19Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 20. the smaller footprint and the display surface. And within three years, but I would imagine in 10 years what is the most critical information to be given to from now, there will probably be more searches on the user for that time and probably most critical is a mobile or a phone device then there would be to realize and to be very serious about the fact, from a PC or laptop. Because just given how, espe- this person for a phone and theres a reason cially worldwide, mobile is taking shape and more theyre doing on a phone. Theyre not sitting in and more people are becoming reliant on them, I their office in front of a laptop and deciding to con- think it’s absolutely going to transform itself here sume this experience on the phone just for the heck in the next few years. of it. Theyre most likely out and about and what are the needs of someone is using a phone? This Danny Sullivan feels that search just won’t go mo- goes back to the intent, when you know somebodys bile, it will become ubiquitous. It will start appear- accessing your service through a mobile device, ing in several devices, including those that come taking that into consideration when you’re thinking along with us: about intent and what you should be bringing back for those searches…(for example)… using GPS so Danny: I think that the next big trend is that, ironi- that its trying to help you with that, so under- cally from what I just said to you, search is going standing where you are and bringing that context to start jumping into devices. And everything is to a local search is hugely beneficial. going to have a search box. But it will be appropri- ate. My iPod itself will have a search capability Justin Osmer: And mobile is just going to get big- within it. And the iPhone, to some degree, maybe it ger, including voice-enabled search, so you’ll be will that look at how it’s happening already. But I’ll able to just talk into the phone, “Starbucks coffee” be able to search, access, and get information ap- and it will know what corner you’re making that propriate to that device within it. query from and will give you results in a radius around you to get to that information…In my mind Advertising on the SERP: 2010 I think of the comparison to broadband. It seems like just within the last three to five years broad- It took a long time to get advertising on search band is really taken off so that’s enabled a whole results page right. And then, when the engines lot of great web applications and websites and finally did get it right it turned out that a simple companies to really ramp-up their online capabili- text ad was the best. But that was within the con- ties and customers are able to get a very immer- text of a linear, text based presentation of results. sive, exciting experience because of that. I think Does that change significantly when our results you’re going to see a similar ramp-up with mobile suddenly include images and videos in the linear carriers, not only with the networks themselves as format may break up into more of a portal-based they upgrade and update, but also with the de- format? vices. I think there’s still a ways to go with the de- vices and they’re only getting better. The iPhone is Chris Sherman: I think it just creates more oppor- a great example. I was playing with that at the tunities for advertising. Its got to be really inter- Apple store this weekend. I just bumped into a guy esting to watch how that evolves because we here at the cafeteria who had one. I think the de- started with actually a richer form of advertising, vices themselves and being able to navigate arguably, with banner ads and people learned to through the web and being able to pull up informa- become blind to them. It was only once we got real tion in a super intuitive, quick and easy way is ab- simple basic text ads that that form of advertising solutely going to start to take off and I think there really took off. So I think what were going to see will be a point, and this probably won’t happen this experimentation and a lot of creativity around20 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 21. the different formats. you see, and I don’t know if this will be in three years, where you see small little banner ads orMarissa Mayer: I think that there will be different other things that are off to the side that start totypes of advertising on the search results page. As replace the text links, just so they can continue toyou know, my theory is always that the ad should carry some weight on the page. Because I wouldmatch the search results. So if you have text re- imagine if you get to the point where you eversults, you have text ads, and if you have image really great search experience but the ads are hardresults, you have image ads. So as the page be- to see, the advertisers aren’t going to be verycomes richer, the ads also need to become richer, happy with youjust so that they look alive and match the page.That said, trust is a fundamental premise of Danny Sullivan: I guess the concern might be if thesearch. Search is a learning activity. You think of natural results are getting better and better whyGoogle and Ask and these other search engines as would someone want to click on the ads anyway?teachers. As an end user the only reason learning Maybe people will reassess the paid results andand teaching works, the only way it works, is when some people will come through and say that paidyou trust your teacher. You know you’re getting search results are a form of search data base asthe best information because it’s the best informa- well. So we’re going to call them classifieds ortion, not because they have an agenda to mislead we’re going to call them ads, we’re going to moveyou or to make more money or to push you some- them right into the linear display. You knowwhere because of their own agenda. So while I do there’ll be issues, because at least in the US, youthink the ads will look different, they will look dif- have the FCC guidelines that say that you shouldferent in format, or they may look different in really keep them segregated. So if you don’t high-placement, I think our commitment to calling out light them or blend them in some way, you mightvery strongly where we have a monetary incentive run into some regulatory problems. But thenand we may be biased will remain. Our one prom- again, maybe those rules might start to change asise on our search results page, and that will stand, the search innovation starts to change, and go withis that we clearly mark the ads. It’s very important it from there.to us that the users know what the ads are becauseit’s the disclosure of that bias, that ultimately Michael Ferguson: It puts increased relevancebuilds the trust which is paramount to search them pressure on the advertising because, however that advertising is expressed, and it might not just beJustin Osmer: For us, it’s going to be about mak- text ads in the future as far as optimization or buy-ing sure that people understand that the majority ing, it puts relevance pressure on the advertisingof the page, if you look at the page real estate, at because they are increasingly being presented in aleast 75% of that will be the organic, and making more varied experience with competing routes forsure that’s clear to people. For the sponsored links, users to take. I think that is good for end usersI think that those are going to evolve in time as and good for advertisers and I think that searchwell. It’s certainly been proven out of the market- marketers are going to become much more, to myplace that there’s a lot of money to be made there mind, in demand and sophisticated quickly becauseand a lot of companies have become reliant on the this is going to drive the need to coordinate a cam-text linked ads. As the search page becomes more paign across how you might present somethingrobust and, potentially, more populated with with video, how you might present something withgraphics or a more rich experience, I think that the audio and images to fulfill the advertising opportu-ads will maybe need to raise up and match that in nities that are going to come with these more richsome respects. So that there may be a time where pages. Another thing that we are seeing is more 21Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 22. and more content is actually going to be surfaced ing too many images, then we start seeing the ob- onto the results page when there is high confidence stacle course behavior. People scan around the im- that is relevant. there might be a time you might ages, as they do on a lot of corporate websites, see people advertising and providing content not where the images tend to be stock photos of glam- just on web pages and blogs etc. but with short our models that are irrelevant to what the user’s discrete self-contained video answers and audio there for. And then people involve behavior where answers that come up either as sponsored or rele- they look around the images which is very contrary vant content. So you might have a breaking down to first principals of perceptual psychology type of of search marketing that takes some of the things predicting which would be that the images would that have been learned like optimization and de- be attractive. Images turn out to be repelling if signing good text ads and seeing how that would people start feeling like they are irrelevant. It’s a work when you’re delivering an audio 20 second similar effect to banner blindness. If there’s any pitch or delivering an audio content that drives type of design element that people start perceiving traffic to your site. as being irrelevant to their needs, then they will start to avoid that design element. Do richer visual ads equal banner blindness? What might personalization means for the fu- Of course, anyone who’s done eye tracking studies ture of advertising on the search results page? on web pages know that banner blindness is a common occurrence when graphics and text are Just in the last few weeks Google has announced mixed. If this is where the search engines are go- that the very basic form of personalization will ing with their results page, what will that mean for start impacting the ads you see on the search re- graphic ads? We’ll we just see banner blindness sults page. As search engine’s embrace personal- once again rear its ugly head on the search results ization more fully, how might this impact the pres- page? entation of ads? Obviously, they could be used to increase the relevancy of the ads to an individual Jakob Nielsen: If they put up display ads, then but it may also impact the format of the ad served they will start training people to exhibit more ban- to a user, based on their identified preferences. ner blindness, which will also cause them to not look at other types of multimedia on the page. So Chris Sherman: You’re going to see the work that as long as the page is very clean and the only ads theyre doing in personalization of search results is are the text ads that are keyword driven, then I very applicable to what could be happening with think that putting pictures and probably even vid- advertising. Where they monitor, heres are an eos on there actually work well. The problem of array of different ad formats, from simple text course is they are inherently a more two dimen- links to maybe a graphic ad to potentially a video sional media form, and video is 3 dimensional, be- ad, and, I think, over time, as they get to know you cause it’s two dimensional – graphic, and the third and your preferences, you know…"I never click on dimension is time, so they become more difficult to that video ad", they’ll gradually stop showing you process in this linear type of scanned document ads in that format and maybe increase the ads in “down the page” type of pattern. But on the other the format that you do click on. hand people can process images faster, with just one fixation and you can “grok” a lot of what’s in Larry Cornett: They’d (the advertisers) love actu- an image, so I think that if they can keep the pages ally to be more targeted with what theyre present- clean, then it will be incorporated in peoples scan- ing and, very similar to what were trying to solve ning pattern a little bit more. If there starts becom- in understanding query intent, this also has a huge22 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 23. impact for search marketing. So the more they nities that are available for search marketers.understand about what a specific user is lookingfor in their context, the more intelligent they canbe about what theyre actually offering the user interms of those sponsored experiences. So I think itwill allow you to be a lot more targeted with what How will our interaction with the page change?youre offering to a user and by being more tar-geted it will add more value for the users and hope- Obviously there are different opinions of what thefully, be a better experience for them as well. search engine page might look like in 2010 corre- spondingly there are different opinions about whatBut when does that better experience become a the user experience might be on the results pagereality? Personalization of advertising will happen as well.incrementally and the ability to target accuratelywill improve over time. For many users, it will be a Marissa Mayer: I think as the results formats be-mixed environment, with some very well targeted, comes much more heterogeneous, we’re going torelevant ads in some locations that don’t even look have a more condensed presentation that allowslike advertising and the more typical forms of un- for better random access. So, above the fold beingtargeted advertising we’re more familiar with. really full of content, some text, some audio, someCornett sees this as a possible differentiation point video, maybe even playing in place, and you seefor engines and networks in the future: what grabs your attention, and pulls you in. But it’s almost like random access on the front page ofLarry Cornett: I think what thats going to do is the New York Times, where am I more drawn to themake it quite clear to the consumers where the picture, or the chart, or this piece of content downvalue is for them. I think thats got to be a differ- here? What am I drawn to? So the eyes follow andentiation for people. Do they really want to spend they just read and scan in a linear order, wheretime in the context where theyre seeing a lot of when you start interweaving charts and picturesstuff that’s not targeted and not appropriate and and text, people’s eyes can jump around more, andmight even be annoying or would they rather they can gravitate towards the medium that theyspend time in an environment where it seems like it understand best.could be beneficial for them. I think thats going tobe something that naturally comes out as a differ- Ironically, Danny uses Google as the referenceentiation. point for a linear presentation when he compares them against Ask’s 3DSearch model:Michael Ferguson: I think that the other facet ofthis that might evolve is that, over time, this might Danny Sullivan: When I look at the blended search,be a function of personalized search. You might Google’s approach is, well, we’ve got to stay linear,find one aggregated group of people is really get- we’ve got to keep it all in there. That’s where peo-ting your message and you are getting good con- ple are expecting the stuff and so we’re going to goversions because they’re really responding to text that way. Ask’s approach is we’re going to be put-based ads while another group who might do the ting it all over the place on the page and we’ve gotsame search with the same user intent, with the the split, really nice interface. And I agree withsame semantic map as you have talked about, them. And of course Walt Mossberg wrote that re-they might respond to an audio message or video view where he said ‘oh they’re so much nicer, theymessage. There is going to be I think a nice expan- look so much cleaner’, and that’s great, except thatsion of the sophistication and the types of opportu- he’s a sophisticated person, I’m a sophisticated 23Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 24. person, you’re a sophisticated person, we search and possibly even revolution who will be driving all the time. We look at that sort of stuff. A typical this innovation? person might just ignore it; it might just continue to be eye candy that they don’t even notice. And Chris Sherman: I think we’re going to see it see far that is the big huge gamble that is going on be- more from Ask than any of the other major play- tween these two sorts of players and then yet again ers. You know, Ive always thought of Ask is being it might not be a gamble because when you talk to sort of the Apple of the search world. You know, Jim Lanzone, he’s like ‘I tested these, this is what theyve got this really cool technology. In many our people do’, and his people might be different ways you can argue that its actually works way from the Google people. Google has got a lot more better than their competitors in some respects and new people that come over there that are like, ‘I yet its a very, very small but loyal user base. And just want to do a search, show me some things, we’ve see Apple do this kind of innovation continu- where’s the ten links? I’m done!’ ously with the Macintosh and now, of course, with the iPod and the iPhone and that sort of thing, and Michael Ferguson: We do know that there are with their computers, at least, they still really some of the basics that we have seen before: users arent gaining any market share, but it’s enough starting in the upper left with the sponsored and and they can afford to take those risk, because organic results are still a facet of how we present there are good at it. So I think Ask is in very similar the results and that informed our decision to make position and I think they’re going to really be in the the search results the core of the page and then lead with most of these innovations. That said, I compliment the search results with both aids to think Yahoo is in a real transition point as well and expression in the left column and then relevant I’ve seen them, in the past, be willing to take risks content across the top and then the side. So that’s on the user interface front so it will be interesting in play. This is why we ended up having the confi- to see, now that Jerry Yang is back at the helm of dence to launch Ask3D as our default experience, the company, whether or not they’ll see if they can we do know that the stuff being off to the side take the lead in making innovation as well. It will doesn’t interfere with their consumption of the be really interesting to see. And even Microsoft, if search results and that they do notice the variance, you look at some of the stuff they’ve done, for ex- the different types of content that we present. I ample, their image search. For awhile they have think in large part that’s because there are some that endless scroll of images, which I thought was visual aspects to them, sometimes graphical, some- brilliant, and the ability to resize the thumbnails times images, sometimes a video, so we are chang- which you see. ing how people are looking at the page. There is still that core, that need of typing in something and You’ll notice that Chris conspicuously left one then reviewing the links and making a click. name off his list of possible innovators, Google. I called him on this: Where will the innovation come from? Chris: I just think that they are going to be the We all agree there will be innovation happening on most cautious of all the players because, first of the search results page in the next three years. In all, that kind of clean, Spartan, sparse layout has the last few months a surprising amount of this been almost religion for them from day one. It’s has come from the large players, Google, Yahoo part of the reason why Google is so attractive peo- and Microsoft. Perhaps the boldest innovator has ple when it first emerged in the late 90s. Thats been Ask with their introduction of search 3D. As like Apple moving away from, okay you can get the the search interface goes through further evolution Macintosh, but it has to be white. I think one of the24 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 25. ones that they did recently silver or black or some- And what about Ask themselves? What is the strat-thing, but its that whole idea of spare design is egy behind their pushing the innovation envelope?almost really like religion. So Google is in that kind Michael Ferguson believes it’s all about brand dif-of position and they will be by far the most conser- ferentiation:vative of all the major players. Michael: I think that more and more of the experi-Danny Sullivan has his own take on the Ask/Google ences of brand will have to have to do with therivalry and Google’s dilemma: search results page as opposed to thinking of the home page. Over time, different engines’ brandsDanny: I tend to look perhaps more kindly on what have largely been associated with the home page.Google is doing, than some people who try to meas- But really from a business model standpoint, thereure them up against Ask because I understand that are so many different contexts that people are ex-they deal with a lot more people than Ask, and they periencing the search results pages now…you havehave to be much more conservative than what Ask screens that are increasingly getting larger andis doing. And I think that what’s going to happen increasingly getting smaller and more mobile etc.is those two are going to approach closer together. and you’re going to want as a brand, any of theThe advantage, of course, Jim (Lanzone) has over search engines, you’re going to want an experienceat Ask is that he doesn’t have ads in that column that is consistent across those — that has a flavor.so he’s got that whole column he can make use of, The days are over when all the pages from all theand it is useful, and it is a nice sort of place to tuck engines look the same, the ten blue links and that’sit in there. why we felt so confident in asserting the Ask3D view there because we knew that people wereLarry Cornett: The search engines (are) feeling a ready for that. There are also other business rea-little more freedom to experiment with the search sons…more and more with large screens I’m seeingexperience and with the design of that search people in social situations, surfing and searchingpage, which I find it refreshing. It hasn’t been that together, so again that is another opportunity forfor a long time, and now pretty much every search us and for others to think about what does theengine is a feeling a little more freedom to essen- search results page say about your brand andtially stretch their wings a bit and try some differ- about your unique experience and features.ent experiences. We talked earlier about Google potentially creatingI then asked Larry why we seem to have seen this two flavors of Google, one for power users andburst of innovation in the last few months: Google base for the average user. Theoretically, this gives Google the ability to be bolder with inno-Larry: Some of it might just be that it took some vation on the elite property without risking jarringtime for the quality of the search experience to get or alienating a huge base of users, and take theto a certain point that it’s become commodity. I winners from that test bed and move them intothink you see a lot of that in a lot of industries Google Basic. Greg Sterling and I mused about thatwhere theres a lot of work just to get to an experi- theory:ence where we have actually reached a certain barand we were actually deliver a great results to us- Greg: I think that… that is a good thesis and iters, so what is the next thing? We could all con- does (get Google out of their innovator’s dilemma)tinue to tweak and evolve how do we present better to a degree. They can create these separate tracksresults to users but then, what is the next big for the power user and roll out some of those wellthing? tested and adopted features to the broader group 25Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 26. more gradually. I think one of the reasons why it’s really going to have a problem is interpreting universal search does not look like much of a things like body language in drama, or themes like change is for that very reason you have just de- irony or parody. Those are human things that are scribed …Ask could go much farther because they almost impossible without lots and lots of experi- have less to lose. They need to take risks and obvi- ence as a human being living and interacting with ously because of their position. Google has a tre- other people…how is a computer going to figure mendous amount to lose as you point out ….so I do that out? Thats a huge challenge in my mind. think that that is an interesting solution in some ways to the Innovators dilemma …so I would agree Bold predictions for the future with that. Without exception almost all our respondents felt The convergence of search and entertainment frustrated by the limitations of a three-year time- line. Its difficult to rein in your enthusiasm for Increasingly, the lines between all our screens are where search might go and keep it corralled in a becoming blurred. We watched on the likelihood fairly restrictive three-year horizon. So each step of search and going mobile in a significantly in the beyond the boundary imposed on them by the and next three years. The other area of convergence is speculated on what search might become in the between our TV screens and our computer screen. future. Chris Sherman brought up the concept of Will search open up new world of entertainment for the Star Trek computer often trotted out by Craig us in the next three years? Silverstein from Google. Chris Sherman: It’s a huge opportunity for re- Chris: But I think as we look much farther down I search because right now, it basically sucks. You think the search results page ultimately might even got TiVo and thats "searchable" but not really and go away. We might not have what we consider to not on a minute by minute or keyword phrase sort be results in the sense that we know them today. . of level. In terms of really integrating with a music Weve had Craig Silverstein and Sergey Brin and all collection…I would love to have a search that could those guys from Google currently talking about help me pinpoint the various... Ive got 10,000 how they love to turn Google into the computer on songs on my iPod and its absurd. Theres very Star Trek and I think part of that is obviously the little out there that can help with that and is pri- intelligence that theyre trying to build into a but marily my fault, its not the search tools themselves the other very obvious part is people on Star Trek are poor, it’s that with that kind of quantity of in- talked to the computer and the computer talked formation or entertainment available to me, I cant back to the. They dont interact with it in a way remember everything that Ive got. So I think that we interact with Google today. Its a totally theres a huge opportunity there. different experience. An opportunity perhaps, but Chris is not overly Meanwhile, another movie was on the mind of Ma- optimistic about the search engine’s ability to be- rissa Mayer; Minority Report. She’s wondering come more “human” in indexing our entertainment what multi-touch displays might do for search in options: the far-off distant future. Chris: The problem is that kind of stuff will work Marissa: I ran into Jeff Han both of the past years well if you have an audio soundtrack that’s rela- at TED. Basically he was doing multi-touch before tively straightforward and is maybe more of a they did it on the iPhone on a giant wall sized documentary, factual type of information. Where screen, so it actually does look a lot like Minority26 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 27. report, it was this big space where you could inter- first got that in 2005, I said, this is amazing, be-act, you could annotate, you could do all those cause it’s basically got TV search built into it. I dothings. the search and then of course, it allows me to sub- scribe to the program, and records the program,A few people mentioned a particular area of inter- and knows when the next ones are coming up. Andest for me (okay, maybe I prompted them a little) it makes so much more sense for that search to beand that’s bringing search functionality to a virtual in that device than it did for me to have it else-world interface. At some point in the future will our where. I use it all the time, when I want to knowonline interface looks very much like the real when a programs on, I don’t have to find where theworld, with search allowing us to navigate virtually TV listings are on the web, I just walk over to myand instantly from one place to another? computer and do a TV listing search from Media Center player. So I think we’re going to have manyChris Sherman: Absolutely, that whole idea of cre- more devices that are internet enabled, and there’sating sort of a virtual world, if you will, I think its going to be reasons why you want to do searchesfascinating. There is EveryScape.com, which blew with them, to find stuff for them in particular.me away. They’re stitching together images of San That’s going to be the new future of search andFrancisco, of Union Square, in much the way the search growth will come into it. And in terms ofPhotoSynth does. Its just remarkable, its the clos- what that means to the search marketer, I thinkest thing to an immersion experience that Ive seen it’s going to be crucial to understand that these areyet on the web and theyre planning on doing this going to be new growth areas.for other locations. So basically you can walk intobuildings, you mouse over and it tells you what it Jakob Nielsen was probably the most cautious ofis, its really, really cool. all, believing that big advances in improving rele- vancy are at least a decade or two away:One of the coolest things I’ve seen in the past littlewhile is the demo of Microsoft’s table top com- Jakob: I think if you look very far ahead, 10, 20,puter, which takes advantage of the multi touch 30 years, then I think there can be a lot of thingscapabilities that Marissa is referring to demon- happening in terms of natural language under-strated by Jeff Han. standing and making the computer more clever than it is now. If we get to that level, then it may beJustin Osmer: That’s going to be a great product. I possible to have the computer better guess at whatthink you’ll first see that on the enterprise side be- each person needs without the person having tofore you see consumers snatching those things up. say anything, but I think right now, it is very diffi-It makes a perfect scenario in my mind for the ho- cult. The main attempt at personalization on thetel lobby. You know the hotel concierge is going to web is Amazon.com. They know so much about thebe like the Maytag man here pretty quickly because user because they know what you’ve bought whichyou’ll be able to sit down at the table and map out is a stronger signal of interest than if you had justyour whole itinerary for the trip, be able to read searched for something. You search for a lot ofthe news from local paper and it will all be right things that you may never actually want, but actu-there on that table top in the lobby or potentially ally paying money; that’s a very, very strong signaleven in your room at some point. So I think that’s of interest. Take myself, for example. I’m a verya really fascinating technology and it’s very excit- loyal shopper of Amazon. I’ve bought several hun-ing. dred things from them and despite that they rarely recommend successfully. Sometimes they recom-Danny Sullivan: Windows Media Center, when I mend things I already have. I just didn’t buy it 27Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 28. The Eye Tracking Study With the changes that have been occurring with the usability team, discussing the challenge, a plan started to formulate. Why not ask the smartest peo- search results page over the past 6 months, includ- ing the introduction of Ask 3D, Google’s Universal ple we can think off, people that are responsible and Personalized search and the indication that for defining the user experience at the major en- major change will soon also be happening on Ya- gines and observers that have been watching the hoo! and Live, the question at the top of our minds search experience for years, what they see happen- was how this would impact the user experience? ing in the future. Then why don’t we combine this Would we scan these new, richer pages differently wisdom, together with our views (being no than we scanned the more linear, more homoge- slouches ourselves when it comes to understand- nous pages we’re used to? And how would we in- ing search behavior) and mock up what a search teract with the sponsored listings on the page? As results page might look like in 2010? Then, we can you could see from our interviews with our expert put it to the test. panel, there seemed to be some speculation on this question in their minds as well. They discussed Of course, coming up with a design is only one a less static, less condensed scan pattern, where part of the challenge. For personalization to be the eye was drawn to different types of information simulated, we had to have a panel where we could presented in different ways. track clickstream behavior and use it to tailor per- sonalized results based on their past behavior. This Our previous eye tracking studies have largely de- was not a study that leant itself to our typical panel fined the user experience with the existing results based approach. We had to approach it in two page. In study after study, we saw the same behav- stages, by giving participants an area of interest, iors exhibited: The Golden Triangle, The F-shaped signing them into a generic Google web history Scan pattern, the definition of a consideration set account and then gathering the click stream data of 3 or 4 listings, at the top of the page, from from this first session to customize a results set which we usually select the listing that appeared to for a given scenario that was presented in a second offer the highest degree of relevance to our ques- session. Because of the high degree of commit- tion, the orientation at the top left corner than the ment on the part of the participants, we decided to linear scan down the left page, scanning across tap into our circle of family and friends for this titles when they caught our attention with informa- study. tion scent. Given the potential diversity in every single search we launch, the amount of consistency Another challenge was in determining where we that emerged across hundreds of searchers and wanted to take a snapshot of the results page to thousands of searches was remarkable. But given test against. The first one was fairly easy. We the introduction of several new stimuli in new for- wanted to see what the inclusion of different types mats, we suspected this would change, so we de- of results, especially images, might do to scan pat- cided to put it to the test. terns as they start to shop up in blended search results. Jakob Nielsen talked about the potential of Of course, trying to conduct an eye tracking test on banner blindness and obstacle course navigation what search might be in the future, especially behavior if too many images of questionable rele- something like personalization, introduces some vancy were included on the page. Our theory was unique challenges. First, while we have Google’s actually the opposite. We believed that images, version of what personalization looks like now, it’s especially relevant ones, might significantly affect a tepid introduction of personalization at best and the initial orientation points. The upper left orien- will almost certainly not look like this a few years tation is a major contributing factor to the F from now. As we sat around with our research and shaped scan pattern which leads to the formation28 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 29. of the Golden Triangle. What might happen if this ori- quate, given that we wanted to see how the eye navi-entation point starts to move around the page? gated around the page anyway.We already had a pretty strong baseline. We knew, in For personalization, we assumed a much more confi-specific detail, how users interacted with a more basic dent algorithm in 3 years. All the organic results weresearch results page. Testing Universal search should personalized, presented both from historic click-be relatively easy. We found a few topic areas that stream data and also new sites that came from simi-produced reasonably rich Universal sets of results and larity to previous sites that had been visited and alsotracked the sessions on our Tobii eye tracker. our knowledge (remember, these are our family and friends) of what the participant may find interesting.Personalization proved to be a bigger challenge. We We also personalized one of the top sponsored re-didn’t believe it would be particularly useful or inter- sults. We believe advances in personalization in theesting to test personalization as it’s currently being next 3 years will go beyond simple elevation of previ-implemented. We wanted to test a version of personal- ously visited sites in the rankings to making the en-ization that would be more confidently presented, gines a more confident recommendation engine. Wetying in both organic and sponsored results. And this also substantially bumped up the engines ability tois where it got interesting! determine where our subjects were in the buying cycle (we set them out to research iPhones) and tailor theFirst, we stayed with the linear format typical of results accordingly.Google today, but stepped up the level in personaliza-tion on the page. We believe this could represent per- Obviously, to test the future, we had to plunge head-sonalization on Google in a year or so. We personal- first into the realms of speculation. This introduces aized 3 organic listings on the page (positions 3, 4 and number of challenges into this study that were inevita-5) as well as one sponsored location (top sponsored ble, but do have to be listed here. First, these wereposition 2). We made an arbitrary call that Google our friends and family, not a random sample. Sec-wouldn’t be bold enough to knock out top spot in ondly, because of the amount of work that had to beeither location in the near future based on personal- done and the timelines, we had to restrict our panelization signals. We selected the personalized results, size to a smaller one that would be typical in a moreboth organic and sponsored, based on past click robust study. We worked with 16 people. With thestreams (from the first test session). We restricted our interactions with the 2010 results pages, these werelevel of personalization based on this empirical data, not functional pages but screen shots of mock ups, sobelieving that this would be at a stage that it would be this will undoubtedly impact the scan patterns. Andreasonable to expect Google to attain in the next 12 finally, respondents had never seen the 2010 resultsmonths. page prior to the test, so there was a far amount of curiosity driving their interactions. It was as if theyBut, to test what the search experience might be in 3 had suddenly been fast forwarded 3 years ahead. Asyears, we had to move beyond what was safe and eas- you’ll see when you read the section on the thinkingily testable. This is where we really started to have of our design, we did want to keep them in a richerfun. First of all, our Search 2010 team gathered up but somewhat familiar experience, but it would hardlyour thoughts and those of our expert panelists. We be considered representative of a searcher using thisboiled them down into some common elements and interface on an ongoing basis. But, of course, thatcreated a prototype of what the search page might would be impossible to test for. Even with all the chal-look like in 3 years. For the purpose of this test, all we lenges, we found the results fascinating and we’recould mock up was the actual look. We couldn’t build happy to share them with you in this report.in any functionality. But we felt this would be ade- 29Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 30. Chunking of page ratherthan F Shaped scan pattern B A CThere was one fairly obvious difference we sawas soon as we compared a heat map from a typi-cal blended result against the heat maps from a Dprevious, pre-blended results. Our believe wasthat pictures would change the orientation point,leading to a distinctly different experience andthis did appear to be the case.In the pre-blended world, there was very com-mon tendency to orient in the upper left corner(indicated by A) and to start the scanning fromthere, first vertically (the down arrow) and thenscanning across when a title catches your atten-tion (the right pointed arrow).But in the blended results, you’ll notice thatwhile there still is some scanning in the veryupper left (B), it doesn’t appear that the scan-ning starts there. Instead, the orientation ap-peared to happen by the graphic thumbnail inthe results (C), and then started from there.Scanning seems to be predominantly to the sideand below (D). Could this push scanning down,moving the Golden Triangle down on the page? Aggregate heat map from searches for “Harry Pot- Aggregate heat map from Eye Tracking Study 2006 ter” 30 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 31. In fact, the presentation of a graphic element high in the results such as the image of the iPhone in the results shown at left seems to result in a men- tal division of the page, which we refer to as “chunking” the page. It seems we extend mental boundaries from the edges of the picture and di- C vide the page up for further scanning. Here is the sequence of scanning that we observed when these conditions were present. While we still seem to swing our eyes up to the upper left, we almost immediately (in under a sec- ond) move our eyes to the image (A) to determine A B if it’s relevant. A graphic image appears to be a powerful attractor to the eye. The tendency then is to determine if the listing beside the graphic (B) is relevant and unique in some way. Our brains D tell us that because this listing has a unique treat- ment in the listings, it should be unique in some way. This is likely because universal results is still a new concept to us. Perhaps with time, we’ll be- come less sensitive to these listings. Regardless, at this point, we saw a tendency to scan this list- ing first. Then, because we still like to scan 3 or 4 listings before making our choice, we make our choice from the “chunks” above the image (C) and below it (D). Rather than the top to bottom, left to right F shaped scan characteristics seen in the pre- blended world, we see more of an “E” shaped pat- Rather than an “F” shape scan pattern, we saw an “E” tern, with the middle and first horizontal scan leg shaped pattern with the middle of the E being aligned being where the image appears (see image below at left). The upper left top to bottom bias that was with the image result. such a powerful factor in search behavior before seems to be lessened dramatically by the pres- ence of an image. 31Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 32. Page “Chunking” - con’tAs an example of “chunking” behavior, we tooktwo results, one where an image appeared nearthe top of the page (at right) and one where theimage appeared below the fold, making it a non-factor in the initial interactions with the page. Onthe page at right, we go through the first few sec-onds of interactions in half second slices. Page without a graphic result in the top listings Page with a graphic result in the top listing, showing “Chunking” of page 32 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 33. In the first half With the blended 0:00:00—0:00:50 second, we see the results, we also see typical upper left an upper left orien- orientation on the tation, but even in page, anchoring on the first half sec- the first result ond, we see the image drawing the eye. With nothing to With an image pre- distract it, the eye sent, however, we begins scanning the are drawn to it and first listing title to begin looking at the determine if scent title beside to see if exists. it’s uniquely rele- vant. It has stronger 0:00:50—0:01:00 scent. By the end of the With the exception- first second, we ally strong scent have defined our provided by an initial consideration image, we are more set and are starting deliberately focused the typical back and on scanning the forth scanning. adjacent listing We are still hopping We’re still scanning 0:01:00—0:01:50 back and forth in the adjacent listing, our consideration moving down to the set description snippet Consideration con- At this point, we are tinues starting to look at the listings above and below the im- age, as we move into consideration set scanning 0:01:50—0:02:00 33Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 34. Fencing of scanningAnother common behavior we observed wasthe “fencing” of scanning through the pres-ence of images or graphic elements withstraight sides. It seems we like to extendthese straight lines to form mental bounda-ries that we use to divide up the page forscanning. In addition to creating the scan-ning “chunks” described earlier, this also canhave the effect of restricting scanning be-yond the boundary. For example, look at thetwo heat maps to the right. In both cases, itappears the presence of an image created a“fence” that restricted scanning below it andled to greater scanning above.This of course depends on a quick scan todetermine whether greater scent existsabove or below the fence. In a search resultspage, if there are enough listings above thefence (given that we like to have at least afew options to consider), it’s natural to as-sume that we’ll find greater relevance abovethan below. But the fact remains, the pres-ence of a straight sided graphic elementleads to the extension of those sides to cre-ate boundaries and once divided, we tend todetermine scent of these sections as awhole, rather than scan each of the listingsindividually. This is the same behavior thatleads us to dismiss the ads on the right siderail as a group after a quick glance at thefirst one, rather than scanning them indi-vidually. “Chunking” and the presence of In the examples above, we see the top edge of the image creates a “fence” that appears tothese “fences” changes our linear scanningbehavior, causing us to break the page up restrict eye scanning below it.more.34 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 35. From looking at the interactions with Google’s uni-versal results set, it seems there are a couple ofsignificant developments that could impact how weinteract with search results. The presence of agraphic on the page engages us in a different man-ner than simply showing us text images. There aretwo factors at play here. First, as Jakob Nielsenpointed out, we “grok” images a lot faster. A quickglance is enough for us to determine the meaningof the image. But secondly, and probably more im-portantly, an image fires different parts of ourbrain. Reading text is a abstract, logical process,but images appeal to us at an emotional level. Re-cent studies have shown that although our brainsprocess different types of information in parallel,emotional inputs are processed much quicker thanrational ones. Something that touches our emotions We can determine relevance fairly quickly and if an image proves to be irrelevant, weproves to be a powerful attractor for the eye. quickly move on. For example, in the heatmap above, a query for “spice girls” (don’t judge us by the scenarios we use!) brought up a YouTube parody clip that provedHowever, just being an image is not enough. It alsohas to offer information scent. The image has to be much lest relevant than the listings above and below it. Although the image caughtrelevant to our intent. And, because it is an image,we can determine relevance very quickly. We canmake an assessment of both relevance and attrac-tiveness of an image in a split second and deter-mine if it’s worthy of our attention. If it passes thantest, than we will reward it with a more deliberatescanning. For example, look at the two examples atright.Images prove to impact scanning more in the ear-lier stages of the interaction, by attracting the eyeand by doing so, creating a different scanning pat-tern. We never see a lot of heat on the image, be-cause we don’t have to spend a lot of time to un-derstand it, but we do see images exerting power-ful pull on the eye. Compare this with the results for Apple’s iPhone. In this case, the image does prove to be relevant and attracts attention. This leads to scanning, and more importantly, early scanning of the result adjacent to the image. 35Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 36. Fencing of Scanning on Ask Ask did seem to do a good job of drawing the eye around the page. A number of images andAsk has been the most aggressive of all the en- icons proved to lead to a moregines in showing blended results, in a non linear, portal like scan pattern. But even3 column layout. This marks a fairly bold depar- with this diversity of scan activ-ture for Ask, breaking the existing search para-digm. The 3D layout makes heavy use of the right ity, we still see fencing of theand left rail to provide supplemental information scanning, coming from the im-to the main results, which are found in the center age at the top and the dividercolumn. There is extensive use of borders, images bars on both sides. However,and icons. Early reviews are generally positive, because of the rich presentationbut, as Danny Sullivan pointed out in his inter-view, those tend to come from sophisticated us- of scent on both sides, the userers. We decided to include some sessions with shows a strong tendency toAsk in our study as well. “jump the fence”.Ask’s top listing, which is the result for the new Notice that actual scanning ac-movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, tivity with the image is minimal,is a classic example of how images impact scan- but it serves to reinforce the in-ning behavior. formation scent of the listing. A quick glance is all that’s needed to determine it is relevant and probably interesting. Also, when faces are present, they’ll draw the majority of interest, espe- cially if the faces are recogniz- able. The familiar Harry Potter logo also serves to reinforce scent. After this, scanning moves to the adjacent text. 36 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 37. Ask makes extensive use of the right rail to provide supplemental image and video results. While this did draw attention, as can be shown from the hot spots on some of the thumbnails, the majority of scanning activity was reserved for the main results in the cen- ter column. As we move to richer results sets, the role of search as a discovery and entertainment channel will lead to a different type of interaction. Tradition thinking around search has always been that is was task based. The faster that somebody could get on and off the page, the better. But take the Ask results page shown as an example of a different type of search. With a search like “Harry Potter”, are we looking for more of the multi-paned type results set that Ask provides? While the number of choices and different types of results might prove to be confusing and even annoying to someone launching a navigational search, it might prove to be exactly what the person who’s in a discovery mood might be looking for. As a point of interest, we com- pared the duration of visit on Ask’s 3D layout with duration of visit for the same topic, “Harry Pot- ter”, on Google’s Ask Google linear lay- out. There was little difference, with the average du- ration for both being about 25 seconds. While much longer than the average duration of a navigational search, it appears that users are able to navigate a multi-paned type presentation just as quickly as they can a linear presentation. 37Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 38. It was interesting to compare interac-tions in organic positions 3, 4 and 5,our test positions for the personal-ized results, in our personalizedmock ups and the non-personalizedsessions. These personalized results,even though we didn’t move them upinto the top two organic positions,performed remarkably well. Thecharts at the far right show both per-centage of gaze time. In the heatmaps to the immediate right, weshow the areas being compared, thefirst heat map being non-personalized and the second heat-map being the personalized results. 38 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 39. 45 Obviously, for the test positions, personalization 40.4 40.95 added a strong information scent component, 40 with performance of these three listings doubling 35 when compared to the non-personalized results. These three listings also pulled twice as many 30 click throughs as the top two organic listings, a dramatic difference from the non-personalized 25 results, where listings 3, 4 and 5 drew only one 20.57 18.91 third as many click throughs as listings 1 and 2. 20 15 10 5 0 Non Personalized Personalized % of Time Spent % of Fixations 39Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 40. Now let’s look at what happenswhen we combine universalsearch results with personalizedones. In the study, we asked par-ticipants to find out more aboutthe Apple iPhone. While we didn’ttrack this on our eye tracker, wedid sign them into test Googleaccounts and tracked both theirweb and search history. This al-lowed us to see what sites theywent to and to hazard a qualifiedguess as to what their intentmight be. We cheated a little bitby doing a quick, informal surveywith them afterwards to see whattheir next likely online actionsmight be. While this extends thecapabilities beyond what is truewith personalization today, wefelt it gives us a reasonable ap-proximation of the capabilities ofpersonalization in the near fu-ture.We also became a little more ag-gressive in how we presentedpersonalized results on the page.We showed personalized resultsin 3 slots, in the number 3, 4 and5 positions in organic. We alsopersonalized the 2nd top spon-sored location. Again, we thinkthis gives a fair representation ofthe degree of personalization wemight see from Google in thenear future.The results to the near right arenon-personalized results fromGoogle. The ones to the far rightare our personalized results. Thepersonalized locations are shownby the shaded box. 40 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 41. The combination of universal results, and person- alization, at least as we’ve represented it, pro- duces a very interesting scan pattern that could have some significant implications for optimum placement of messaging on the page. E Perhaps the easiest way to show this is to first look at how a typical scanning pattern would play out before the introduction of universal and per- C sonalized search results: In the results set shown to the left, most users A would orient in the upper left, just above (E). They B would then start scanning down the page in a lin- ear manner, first glancing at the top sponsored ads in Box “E”, then continuing down to the or- ganic results in Box “C”. A consideration set would D be chosen, likely consisting of the top two spon- sored results and the top two organic ones, and the listing providing the best match of “scent” and intent would be chosen. But let’s look at how the introduction of a graphic and 3 personalized results changes the scan pat- tern. Now, orientation happens on the picture and on the listing title immediately adjacent to it (A), and then the listing in Box B would likely be the first scanned. After this, the user would have to choose between the listings above and below. If personalization wasn’t present, we would assume This heat map shows the effects of a combination of personalization and the results at the top would offer greater scent, but if the personalized results benefit from per- universal results. The natural scanning patterns that results in the Golden sonalization, this might not be the case. Attention Triangle are disrupted with the introduction of another orientation point (the would be drawn down (which seems to be the image) and the greater degree of information scent found in the personalized natural tendency of the eye) because of greater results. The heatmap shows how the scanning activity has been shifted down scent, present through personalization. We can from the top of the page real estate see from the heat map below that the personal- ized results drew a significant amount of scanning attention away from the top of the page. 41Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 42. 0:00:00—0:00:50 0:00:50—0:01:00 0:01:00—0:01:50 0:01:50-0:02:00Let’s look at the first 2 seconds of In the second half second, there’s a After one second in the top exam- In the top example, after 1 and ainteraction in half second slices to strong orientation on the graphic ple, we’re still covering a lot of real half seconds, the consideration setsee how the pattern is broken. The and scanning for scent in the three estate looking for scent, including is much broader, including scan-heatmaps above are from personal- “chunks” of the page, beside, above above and below our initial orienta- ning in each of the three primaryized/universal results and the heat- and below. While there’s still a ten- tion point. In the example below, “chunks” of the page. In the exam-map below (also for the iPhone) is a dency to move to top of page, it’s we’ve decided on a consideration ple below, scanning activity is stillmore traditional presentation. In not nearly as pronounced as we see set of 3 listings at the top of the largely contained in the top 3 re-the first half second, we see how in the bottom example, where all page and we’re hopping back and sults.images and personalized results the scanning is top of page. With forth to determine which offers thebreaks the conditioned trust we personalization and universal, greatest scent.have in Google’s top of page rele- we’re picking up scent fromvance, seen in the example below. throughout the page, where as in the bottom example, we trust that scent is at the top. 42 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 43. This breaking of the “Google Effect” and the Golden Triangle has some significant implications for search marketers. Obviously, all the engines are currently experimenting with new ways to present results, and while they’re all being subjected to us- ability testing, competitive forces may mean that significant developments might be rolled out more aggressively than we’ve seen in the past. While this period of “on the fly” innovation promises to be very exciting for the user, and for the industry as a whole, it means that behavior patterns we’ve come to expect and use in planning our strategies could be in a significant degree of flux in the coming years. For example, we can’t assume, as we have in the past, that being on top of the page will offer the greatest visibility. As we’ve seen in this test, the introduction of universal results and personaliza- tion could alter the typical left to right, top to bot- tom pattern that has become the standard in the past decade. But don’t expect a new pattern to emerge and be- come the standard. We believe as we move forward, we’ll see more differentiation in interfaces, not less. As Michael Ferguson mentioned, this could become the brand differentiator for engines, and Ask has already moved in that direction. As we move away from linear, text based formats, we’ll find more “hunt and seek” behavior (as per “berry picking” theory) on the search results page. But what will this mean for top of page relevancy? As Google and the other engines gain more confidence in presenting relevant That’s still the ideal that engines should shoot for. results through personalization, and as those results become more visually The “Area of Greatest Promise” might move a little, compelling through blending different formats, it’s important for the spon- but it should still exist. Marissa Mayer comments that the factors that determine relevance on the sored listings to keep pace in terms of relevance and visual appeal. In our organic results and on the sponsored results should simulated results page above, the personalized results shown in positions 3, never be too far out of sync. We can see why when 4 and 5 drew a significant amount of scanning away from the top of the page, we look at the heat map to the left. If organic be- comes too relevant, it draws attention down from the sponsored results. Balance between the results is important to both monetization and a successful user experience. 43Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 44. Google: 2010?After the interviews, our designer Cory Bates satdown and mocked up what a possible search re-sults page might look like in 3 years on Google.We took many of the recurring themes from theinterviews and tried to create an experience thatincorporated them.It will eventually be much easier and more con-venient to remain logged into your user accountfor your preferred engine. Therefore, it will bemuch easier for the engines to provide muchmore targeted results to you.Regardless of where you enter your search from;toolbar, search homepage or portal page, as longas you’re logged into your account, your resultswill display in a temporary search tab, which willpopulate on the fly. Much like the way Googlegives you the option now to automatically popu-late the content into a new tab on your iGooglepage.This allows the engines to determine, by yoursearch history in combination with all other, thetype of content to populate onto that page. Ifhistory dictates that you’re still researching aproduct then more research oriented modules willbe delivered to you on the fly, including consumerreviews, blog results, user generated video andother types of content to support the researchexperience. And if your search history dictatesthat you’re ready to purchase an item, then theresearch takes a back seat to more consumer ori-ented modules like; shop local, more purchaseoriented organic results and more traditionalsponsored results, so that there is less in the wayof the consumer’s ideal conversion. 44 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 45. iPhone Location Sponsored Ad Engines able to determine precise location of each search Able to provide local solutions or options, allowing advertisers a precisely targeted advertising package Remove Button The Remove button gives the user the ability to remove this listing from the organic results, giving further con- trol over the results to the user An Ajax hover window would offer you the choice of removing the individual listing or the domain (which could be reversed in the user preferences if you wanted to re-include the domain into your searches) More Results By choosing more results at the bottom of the organic results, you would be taken to a more traditional search page with a page full of organic results Temporary Search Tab When a search is performed, a new temporary search tab is created in your iGoogle portal Shop Local An “on-the-fly” Google maps mashup populated by keyword, also based on your precise location Serves as an additional precisely targeted opportunity on the results page (this one organic), serving up the company name, distance from current location, contact information and additional promotional details Coupled with the more commercial “Buy the iPhone now” module, which offers sponsored opportunities across the web. Filter and Control Buttons The filter button allows dynamic filtering functionality based on the search term used and module For instance, the Shop Local module can be filtered by distance from current location or possibly price range, and an Ajax control alters the module instantly Gives more control to the user in regards to the settings of the module, sharing options etc. For instance, giving the user the option to remove the module entirely or add limitations to its appearance Allow the user to minimize or close the module for this session Buy the iPhone Now A listing of online retailers where the iPhone is available and the current listed price 45Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 46. 46 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 47. Consumer Reviews Based on the number of reviews and how favorable, the results deliver a balanced, color-coded listing of con- sumer reviews These can be viewed at a glance by rolling over the colored bar which serves up clickable titles to the top re- views or click on the link or the bar itself to go into more detail Personalized Results The web results included (personalized to the individual) tended to be consumer research sites rather than com- merce sites Blog Results We also included some listings from popular and relevant blogs GoogleBook As has long been anticipated, Google has purchased Facebook back in late 2008 and is now able to provide more well-rounded cross promotional opportunities for advertisers iPhone News (present on both versions) News stories and image results in a supplemental listing module 47Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 48. In the heatmap to the right, we see the aggregate scan activityfrom all our participants who’s search and web history (aswell as their comments) indicated they were ready to buy, orat least seriously consider their purchase options. All the or-ganic results were personalized, as were the sponsored re-sults. GAs can be seen, the majority of scan activity was still in theweb results section (A). We borrowed a page from Ask’s de-sign book by using the right rail to provide supplemental re- Asults, but in this case, where the activity was highly task fo-cused (find a site that offers an opportunity to buy an iPhone)the right rail was basically “sliced” out of consideration. Inaddition to the heavy scanning in the standard search results, Dwe also saw a lot of interaction with a “Shop Local” feature (B)we added. Here, we showed a Google map with balloonsshowing locations that have iPhones for sale, as well as listedprices. This proved to be a powerful attractor.We also added a “Shop Online” feature (C) where we pulledprices from different online retailers. Perhaps it was page po- B Esition (bottom of page) or the lack of intriguing scent pro-vided by the map in the “Shop Local” box, but this featuredrew less scanning.Even less so was the ad for Rogers (a Canadian wireless pro-vider)at the top of the right rail (D) that also offered a mapshowing the nearest physical location. This was quickly identi- Ffied as an ad and resulted in banner blindness for most of the Cparticipants. The supplemental image results in the middle ofthe right rail (E) and the sponsored video ad at the bottom ofthe right rail (F) suffered the same fate.A “Refine Your Search” pop up box (G) also drew some atten-tion in the upper left. 48 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 49. For the participants that were still in research mode, we al- tered the results to be more consumer information based. In the web results section, we added a Consumer Reviews fea- ture at the top, and personalized universal results where ap- I propriate. We left the “Buy the Phone now” feature with prices, based on the assumption that online retailers would be appealing to those researching. We also added Blog Re- sults at the bottom of the left column. The right rail re- C mained the same, with the Rogers Ad, the supplemental im- age results and the sponsored video ad. A F The hottest part of the page was the consumer reviews sec- tion (A, with enlarged version above), which proved to be B very popular. We jazzed up the visual appeal with some com- G pelling rating bar graphics. The combination proved to be a winner. The second most popular real estate were the personalized D web results (B). The sponsored ad above the consumer re- views (C) didn’t draw much attention. H E The Buy the Phone Now feature (D) drew some eye activity and one click, but didn’t prove to be a very compelling call to action. Even fewer people made it to the bottom of the page to see the Blog Results (E). We had a few glances at the right rail, but once again, it was largely ignored. One respondent did click on the sponsored video ad (H) from Apple. The ad from Rogers (F) and the sup- plemental image results (G) drew little attention (although notice the increased scanning activity on the image of the face near the middle, further evidence of the draw of this graphic element). 49Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 50. Time Spent on Page by Section - Buyers A 45 40 35 B F 30 C 25 20 G 15 10 D 5 H 0 A - Expand B - Top C - Organic D - Shop Local E - Buy iPhone F - M ap Ad G - iPhone News H - Sp. Vid. Ad Search Sponsored Rankings Now E % of Time Spent The total average duration on the page was about 17.99 seconds. While this is twice as long as average durations we’ve seen in previous studies with current Google results, it’s still re- markably efficient, considering that all our participants had never seen this format before and there was probably time spent just orienting themselves to the format. While the organic re- sults (C) proved to be the most popular real estate, with over 41% of time spent on page, the sponsored results at the top drew significant attention, with almost 11.5% of time spent. The Shop Local module (D) also proved to be popular, with over 12 percent of the time spent on the page. The left column dominated the interaction, with 72.6% of the time spent, compared to just 5.16% of the time spent in the right column. 63.3% of the visit was spent with organic content (although it was organic content with a strong commercial bent, i.e. Shop Local) and 14.43% of the visit was spent with the various sponsored messages.50 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 51. Time Spent on Page by Section - Researchers 45 40 A 35 B F 30 D 25 C 20 G 15 10 E 5 H 0 A - Expand B - Top C - Organic D - Consumer E - Buy iPhone F - M ap Ad G - iPhone H - Sp. Vid. I - Blog Search Sponsored Rankings Reviews Now News Ad Results I % of Time Spent The total average duration on the page was about 18.57 seconds, slightly longer than the duration we saw with buyers. The bulk of time (over 54%) was spent in sections D and C, both containing organic results (C, Web results and D, Consumer Reviews). If we include sections B, E, and I, we have a total of over 70% of the total page spent in this left column. Compare this with just 11.25% of all time spent in the left column, where we find the map ad (F), the iPhone News (G) and the sponsored video ad (H). There is still a very defined left bias in our interac- tion with the page. In total, over 71% of the time spent on page was spent on the sections offering organic re- sults, in one form or another. Only 10.29% of the time was spent on the various sponsored results. 51Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 52. The first half second shows our typical sults, as well as the “Refine Your Search” scanning is still on the top web results, are starting to draw some attention. Theupper left orientation. Our inclusion of the pop up box. Despite the richer content, but there is some scanning activity on the first map that’s noticed is on the ad in theresults on an iGoogle tab with the graphic upper left still offers the “Area of Greatest right rail right rail.header proved to be a bit of a distraction. Promise”Scanning continues on the top web re- By the start of second two, the majority of Halfway through second two, the mapsBy second 3, our participants have found Attention is divided between the “Shop By second four, the majority of interaction The consideration set is split between webthe “Shop Local” map under the web re- Local” feature and the web results. The is with the two most popular features in results and shop local results.sults. This proves to be a compelling fea- iGoogle banner at the top still proves to the main left column. So far, no one hasture be an ongoing distraction continued down to the “Buy Online Now” section 52 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 53. The first half second shows responds try- By the end of the first half second, users By the start of second two, the majority of Halfway through second two, the map oning to find an orientation point. Lack of have found the top of the web results and scanning is still on the top web results, the right rail is starting to draw some at-familiarity with the format creates some have anchored there. There is some explo- but there is some scanning activity on the tention, along with “Expand Your Search”initial “hunting” for this ration of the “Expand Your Search” box in right rail. Notice the subsequent scanning and the top web results. the upper left. of the image result.By the third second, there’s more of a Scanning continues in the web results and Scanning activity continues in the same Scanning activity continues in the samefixation on the image result, and some both the map and the images on the right areas areasglances at the iPhone news and images rail.. Images are drawing the eye to differ- ent portions of the page in the hunt for scent 53Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 54. Implications for Marketers With the evolving nature of the search results page, metadata optimization techniques for images or video. Thats a whole other topic area and one that the challenge of how to effectively present your message to a well targeted user becomes vitally our organic optimization expert, Jody Nimitz, can important for the search marketer. While personal- provide further insight on at a later date. ization offers us more opportunities than ever to reach the right person at just the right time, in- Regarding how these results have to look on the creasing complexity of the search results page in- results page, remember relevancy and information troduces some challenges in ensuring visibility. scent are the key. You have to understand what Although the results pages we tested in this study the intent of the searcher is and then make sure are largely the result of our speculation about what that the image matches that intent. Just as you might be, they are based on expert opinion and would look for content on your website that sup- there is a strong likelihood that results pages in ports the most popular keyword queries, you can 2010 could bear a resemblance to the ones we do the same with images. Do a keyword analysis mocked up for the study. and find which images are relevant to those que- ries. Make sure you tag the images accordingly and support with relevant content around the im- The impact of universal search in linear results age. If youre optimizing for product, make sure the product is the strongest feature in the image. Optimizing for video and image results The image must be "grok" so that users can under- stand what the image is, even when its shrunk to With the inclusion of thumbnail graphics in univer- the size of a small thumbnail and is embedded in a sal search results, the study proved the power of a list of search results. Also remember that faces are graphic image in a linear set of results. When an strong visual attractors in images. When we talk image is relevant to the search shows near the top about optimizing images, the basic rules that have of the results set and provides strong information governed graphic design for decades start to apply scent, there is a very strong likelihood that the ma- to search engine marketing. Make sure theres a jority of users will orient within the first second on strong focal point, make sure theres contrast, cre- this image. This will mark an effective entry point ate interesting visual images designed to draw the of the eye onto the results page and the scanning eye, and try to do all this in an image smaller than will progress from here. If you can optimize a re- the size of a postage stamp. sult that carries a thumbnail image when it ap- pears, and you can get that result near the top of After you optimize the image, then you have to the organic listings you have a huge advantage out optimize the title that sits adjacent to it. Remem- of the gate. You have excellent odds that your list- ber, this optimization has to deliver a 1-2 punch. ing, immediately adjacent to thumbnail, will be the The picture will draw the eye but its the title that first listing read. If you deliver on user intent, you will capture the click. Just like any other search can pull a huge number of clicks from the search listing, the first few words that appear on the far results page. Images tend to break the common left side have to deliver strong sense or the top to bottom linear scan which makes top posi- searcher will continue on. tions so valuable for visibility. Staying on the Right Side of the Fence For the organic optimizer, this offers a brand-new opportunity to gain visibility on the search results As we’ve shown, the introduction of a graphic with page. Well restrict our suggestions to optimizing straight sides automatically introduces visual the appearance on the results page, rather than54 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 55. fences that can restrain scanning beyond them. If User-based Themesimage results are frequently appearing on the sameresults page that your listing or ad appears, you Perhaps the biggest change that comes with per-have to be aware of this user tendency and ensure sonalization is the need to completely shift ouryou’re on the right side of the fence. Remember paradigm. Focusing on keywords will no longer bealso that the right side of the fence could be a rela- a strategy for success. It must now focus on users.tive thing. There doesn’t appear to be a universal As personalization takes hold, the search real es-rule of thumb here. If exceptionally strong scent tate will be a shifting landscape, redefined for eachappears below the “fence” scanning may be re- individual user. There will be no such thing asstricted from going above it. Or, if the graphic is ranking, because the ranking will be different forwell down on the visible page, the user would tend each user. Results will be aggregated and orderedto automatically move their scanning above the according to the engines understanding of the“fence” users intent. The amount of control that the search marketer has over what will and what will not be chosen and how theyll be ordered on the page willThe Impact of Personalization be nil.While opinions on personalization seemed to besplit, even amongst our experts, the degree of in- Instead of focusing on long list of keywords, searchvestment in personalization on the part of Google marketers will have to understand what the pre-and the competitors ensures that some degree of dominant needs of their customers are. Oncepersonalization will drive our search experience in these needs are identified, themes will be estab-the future. With personalization comes a whole lished that will be matched to the needs. The usenew set of rules for search marketing. Up to this of personas and profile based user understandingpoint, search engine marketing concentrated on a will become commonplace in the search marketingfairly narrow focus, the few seconds of interaction world. The user-based themes will track the evolv-between the user and the search results page. ing behavior of our target customer throughout theSearch marketers were intently focused on key- development of a relationship with our product orwords because they were the direct mechanism service. Right from awareness through purchasethat generated the search results page. As search and beyond, we will have to gain a deep under-marketers, we really didnt need to look any further standing of all the touch points that influence athan determining what that query might be. Be- purchase decision and the factors that are mostcause of this fairly static presentation of the results important to our customers in reaching that posi-page, there was of predictable pattern of interac- tion. We will have to understand the type of con-tion and the rule of thumb was, the higher the bet- tent they look for online, which types of the sitester. But for many of the reasons that were pointed they expect to find that content on, how they pre-out in this study, the search landscape may not fer to conduct their research, and how they educateprove to be this simple in the future. Personaliza- themselves about product features and benefits.tion will definitely impact information scent on the What will emerge will be an online "map" that willpage, and to make matters even more complex, have a number of intersection touch points. Thethe degree of personalization that we see on the user may interact with many types of content aspage will increase as engines become more confi- they navigate their way through the map, includingdent in their respective personalization algorithms. podcasts, demonstration videos, white papers, competitive comparison charts, consumer reviews, 55Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 56. professional industry reviews and a number of gressive knows that car insurance is a highly com- other potential touch points. These "online buck- petitive market, made more so by access to pricing ets" of content provide the raw working materials wizards online. Insurance shoppers will typically for our personalization optimization strategies. visit three or four sites, complete the wizard to see what the best rate might be, and then will go back Moving up the Funnel to the site that offered the best mix of coverage and price. Knowing that this was typical behavior Up to this point, search has normally been used as with auto insurance shoppers, Progressive decided a direct response marketing tool. While search to try to keep as much of this activity is possible works very well in this regard, search does much happening on their site. While this is a smart mar- more than just facilitate direct transactions. In keting strategy, it becomes doubly so when we fact, for every consumer that uses search to actu- start mixing personalization in. If Progressive is ally make a purchase, 10 consumers use it to re- the "go to" site for car insurance researchers, it will search an upcoming purchase that may never hap- continue to appear in personalized search results pen online. This "higher final" consumer activity is every time a prospect goes to search for their com- very difficult for marketers to quantify and lever- petition. Expect to see this type of research func- age, so to this point, the value of search as a con- tionality to appear on more and more sites as per- sumer research tool hasnt been fully realized. Per- sonalization starts to take hold. The best sites will sonalization will make it imperative that we move include truly useful information and well-designed our marketing strategies "up funnel" to do a better comparison wizards. The sites that want to take job of capturing interest with the customer thats shortcuts will use scrapped and aggregated con- using search as a research tool. tent but little in the way of actual functionality. Ultimately, the user will decide who the winner will At this point, it looks very likely that personaliza- be. tion will be driven largely by our past online his- tory. Google is using both past sites we’ve visited Optimizing for the User and past searches weve launched as a signal to determine which sites to show us in personalized Site optimization, which most of us think of as op- results as we move our way through the funnel. timizing tags and making sure links, headings and So, if we visit a site early in the funnel and find it content are sprinkled with keywords, will take on a useful, its very likely that that site will be boosted whole new meaning. Now, it will mean optimizing in importance in any subsequent relevant searches the site for the user. With the new focus on early we do. It becomes more important than ever for funnel functionality, usability will become more our sites to be "sticky". important than ever. It will be essential to provide clear paths to the most sought after content, and For this reason, youll find sites moving quickly to to provide intuitive functionality to users. We will build out content and functionality so they can be- have to match the “mode” of the user, and if our come research bases. The more face time they can site is a “multi-modal” experience, we need to en- capture with that prospect early in the process, the sure those different paths are very well marked. more likely they will be to be included in the con- For example, for the person gathering product in- sideration set when it comes time to make the final formation, this has to be presented in a “random purchase decision. Although this has always access” way, preferably broken up into bullet tended to be the case, in the past it was only used points and “easy to assimilate” information bites. by the savviest of marketers. As an example, con- The last thing you want to do is lock them into a sider Progressive s approach to car insurance. Pro- serial access channel, such as a flash file, video or56 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 57. podcast. However, if your visitor is in an entertain- ance, moving to a new city, starting a new job, orment mode, an online video could be a compelling any of a thousand and one other life events thatattractor. generate a significant amount of online activity.More Mash Ups, Widgets and Gadgets Within each of these "themes", the sites that are the ones we tend to visit often emerge as a "circle ofBecause site stickiness will become a more impor- importance". These are the sites that will tend totant factor in search marketing, we will see an ex- dominate in personalized results sets. Not only willplosion of ways to encourage people to visit sites. they dominate in our own personal results, but asThese will include the development of widgets and personalization increasingly moves to incorporategadgets that can spread virally through the Internet aspects of social search (so that your search choicesbut provide compelling reasons to click back to the are also influenced by others whove also done re-home site. The more site visits that register in search in this particular subject area) youll find theGoogles base of Web history, the more likely these sites within the circle of importance merge moresites will be bumped in personalized search results and more often. These sites will achieve "favored"at some point in the future. Again, these widgets status within the algorithms of Google. Even at thisand gadgets will probably feature some type of con- point, there are referential sites that tend to besumer research functionality, although there will treated very well by the Google algorithm. Wikipe-also be an explosion of viral games and less useful dia, for example, shows up near the top of the re-applications. sults for a huge number of searches.We also expect to see an explosion of mash ups As search marketers start to understand what thethat combine functionality from various applications circle of important sites are in their target category,and present it within the context of the marketers these sites will be inundated by offers to try to gainwebsite. The most obvious application is in the some type of visibility on the page. These couldworld of local search, where a huge amount of data take the form of different widgets and gadgets, of-can be presented as a mash up, layered on a map or fers to provide functionality for mash ups, RSS feedssatellite image. Other potential opportunities for or even something as pedestrian as an offer to buymash ups include virtual worlds such as Second Life a link on the page. Whatever the approach, the goalwhere functionality can be brought into the commu- will be to gain visibility on key pages on these circlenitys environment, encouraging the visitor to click of important sites in the hopes of attracting a visitthrough to the destination website. The same could to the marketers website. The less scrupulous mar-be true for social networking sites like Facebook. keters will scrape content from the site and put it up on hastily constructed domains in the hopes ofCircles of Importance fooling both the engines and users that this site offers anything in the way of real functionality.If one looks at the "head" of web activity, there are anumber of theme-based buckets where typical traf- Emerging "Buzz" Sitesfic patterns emerge quite clearly. For example, foreveryone planning a trip to Paris there are a handful The search space is a dynamic one, often driven byof sites that emerge as being authoritative for that the happenings of the real world. While many of theparticular theme. Similarly, if youre expecting a theme areas will be dominated by "Circle of Impor-child there are a handful of sites that most prospec- tance"; players that have been around for years (cartive parents will check out as they do their research. insurance: AIG, Geico, Progressive, eSurance,The same is true for buying a car, buying life insur- AllState; travel: Expedia, TripAdvisor, Orbitz, Trave- 57Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 58. locity, etc) there will be emerging themes that will their AdCenter platform and Yahoo is following be driven by buzz. These emerging spaces offer suit with Panama. Google, with their Google Tool- opportunities for new and nimble players to estab- bar data, could offer some mind boggling intelli- lish themselves in the Circle of Importance and gence if they chose to, but privacy implications leverage maximum visibility during the resulting will always be first and foremost in their minds. spike of search activity. This will become a key SEO tactic. For example, with the introduction of On the less ethical side, expect a rush of spyware the iPhone, the opportunity was there for a new tools that offer detailed clickstream data on cer- player to become a key information source that tain groups of users. Often, this will be combined would be very appealing to people looking for with behavioral targeting offers. While some early facts on features, carriers, pre-release reviews, players in the behavioral targeting space have etc. This site would have captured a number of played and retreated from tactics that triggered searches that were driven by the buzz surround- the ire of users, the buzz around personalization ing the iPhone and would have established itself will draw more and more players into the space. as a "Circle of Importance" site for subsequent iPhone search activity. Matching Information Scent in Organic Results User Intelligence As goes the organic results, so go the sponsored ads. Although personalization is first being imple- The more search marketing strategies center mented in the organic results, its just a matter of around the user (rather than a basket of keywords) time before sponsored results are also impacted the greater the need for user intelligence will be- by personalization. Google is taking their first ten- come. We need to know where our prospects are tative (painfully tentative) steps in this direction, growing online and when theyre researching their as is Yahoo with their Smart Ads. While the or- purchases. We need to be able to define the ganic side is where theyll win the buy-in of the online maps and traffic patterns, as well as iden- user, they cant let sponsored trail too far behind, tify the sites that sit within the circle of impor- or, as Danny Sullivan pointed out, "if the natural tance. The more intelligence we can gather on the results are getting better and better why would user, the more realistic we can make our personas someone want to click on the ads anyway?" and profiles and the more effective are strategies will be. Tools like Hitwise and Qsearch will be- Google and the other engines are acutely aware of come essential in the search marketers arsenal. the importance of this balancing act, but its fair We would expect many other players to move into to assume that given the inevitable flux in the re- the space and subscription price points to start sults in the foreseeable future, there will be some dropping. One of the key sources of this user in- disconnect between the relevance of the organic telligence may come from the engines themselves. results and the sponsored results. Therefore, its Engines already gather an extraordinary amount important as advertisers to do everything possible of user-based data that, when aggregated, could to make the sponsored results we place as rele- be used to provide clear pictures of user behavior vant as possible. We have to keep a constant eye in a number of different categories. It would be on the results pages that are being serviced up logical to see further user intelligence and profil- with our ads on them and see how factors such as ing tools introduced in the campaign management personalization and the presentation of universal platforms offered by the engines. Microsoft al- results could be drawing searcher attention away ready offers some interesting profiling tools in from those ads.58 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 59. Matching Ad Formats with the User The Importance of Local SearchOne of the more intriguing points that came up in One area of search thats sitting on the cusp of anthe interviews is the notion that personalization explosion is local. Personalization and universalmight not just be used to determine the relevance results promise to make the local search experienceof results, but also to deliver advertising messages even more useful and compelling. When search en-in the preferred format. For example, if a user rou- gines can confidently disambiguate local searchestinely ignores video ads, the engine could "shut off" and display a rich local results page, complete withthe video option and provide a text-based ad in- information presented on maps, and when mobilestead. bandwidth allows for delivery of that experience to a phone or PDA, we have a blockbuster app that willAgain, this points out the need for a deeper under- be adopted at breakneck pace. For search marketersstanding of our target. Different formats offer dif- who are eyeing the local market, this means thatferent messaging and engagement opportunities. now is the time to do your research and be readySearch has always been a "one-size-fits-all" game, for the explosion when it occurs. Increased localbut that may soon change. If the opportunities arise search functionality will mean that search market-that would allow the serving of different formats, ing, which has predominantly been restricted towe have to understand how users would engage in marketers looking at national or global markets, willthose formats, especially within the relatively short suddenly come home in a big way. Search will beand intense interaction that typifies a visit to a used to find companies around the corner as oftensearch results page. As search provides more op- as it is to find companies around the globe.portunities to target, we need to know more aboutthe prospect were looking to target and how tomaximize every touch-point with them. 59Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 60. Acknowledgements We just wanted to send a quick word of thanks to And most of all, thanks to the incredible Enquiro team. The authors of the study are acknowledged the people that helped make this project happen. to the right, but the entire team pitched in and de- serves mention,. They are: First of all, to all our interviewees, Jakob Nielsen, Tom Abramowski Marissa Mayer, Larry Cornett, Justin Osmer, Michael Ferguson, Greg Sterling, Danny Sullivan and Chris Bill Barnes Sherman. Your insights helped make the vision come together. Cory Bates Krista Brown Thanks to the friends and family of Enquiro who Kyle Grant formed our impromptu panel. Because of the pro- longed nature of this study, your patience was es- Manoj Jasra sential and much appreciated. Tracy Kalancha Jason Lane Thanks to those who helped transcribe the inter- views, including Jill Hotchkiss. Petra Leinemann Doug Moore Cherise Myers Barb Newman Jody Nimetz Tracy Sherman Andrew Spoeth Rick Tobin Ryan Wood60 Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com
  • 61. The Team Gord Hotchkiss Rick Tobin Krista Brown President & CEO Research Analyst Research Intern Gord has been active in the Rick has been with Enquiro Krista is an intern from the University of British Colum- marketing and advertising since 2005 and has been in- bia. We thank her for her tremendous contribution to industry for 18 years. Starting volved with research since his this work; she is a valuable addition the Enquiro team. as an award winning radio first day, working on various copywriter, he founded Hotch- client studies and Enquiro’s kiss Advertising Inc. in 1988. Eye Tracking research. He He has extensive experience currently holds a BA and B. Sc creating and implementing - and is actively pursuing an marketing strategies for busi- MBA. With over 7 years of mar-nesses in all sectors. Since 1997, he has focused pri- keting and copywriting experience, Rick brings a usermarily on website design and online marketing. Gord behaviour focus to our research, with an attention toserves as an expert on online marketing for both the real world applications and recommendations. Tracy Sherman Cory Bates Director of Research Designer & Research Analyst Tracy has her MSc in Natural Resource Management and Cory joined the Enquiro team brings seven years of statisti- in 2004 with 6 years experi- cal analysis and SAS program- ence in web and traditional ming experience to the En- graphic design. He specializes quiro Research depart- in providing consultation and ment. Her passion management of organic for research is evident in her search marketing campaigns work on surveys, clinical trials with a focus on site usability and statistical analysis in the pharmaceutical and for- and the end user experience. Cory has been involved estry industries, as well as her various SAS publica- with Enquiros research since 2005, conducting various tions. Her focus at Enquiro is developing new and inno- individual client studies as well as contributing to En- quiros acclaimed Eye Tracking industry research. Cory has a strong working knowledge of the Eye Tracking technology and has the experience to streamline its technical requirements with the clients research needs and expectations. 61Enquiro Research web.enquiroresearch.com phone.250.861.5252 email.sales@enquiro.com

×