Despite the late hour, the Gallery Hall was filled for the 4:45PM presentation. Kevin Ryan, moderator, led a lively discussion of the current impact and future of Universal Search with panel members Andrew Goodman, Chair SES Toronto and Principal Page Zero Media, Adam Lasnik, Search Evangelist at Google, Mike Grehan, Chair SES London and CEO SearchVisible Ltd. and Jeff Revoy, VP Yahoo! Search and Social Media - EU.
Some of the highlights . . .
A question for search marketers (raised by Mike Grehan) - will paid advertisers with text ads, noting the presence of video/multi-media eye candy on the SERP on which they are presented, seek to get their own videos placed as well?
Adam Lasnik's take on social media was both hopeful and realistic. He said that when you have individuals contributing rich media, you get junk and diamonds. It's up to the engines to help users find the diamonds.
Jeff Revoy followed by saying that there is no "secret sauce" for doing so, but that it's still the engines' mission to provide the most relevant content to users.
Andrew Goodman - Why not just write your review (for anything) on Google's search page rather than sites like Trip Advisor, etc.
Jeff Revoy - As a matter of corporate policy, Yahoo! is about openness.
Andrew Goodman - Fair or not, there will be pressure to show preference to one's own properties (e.g. Will Google more favorably place YouTube versus other purveyors of video).
Finally, there was an interesting exchange prompted by an invidual from audience noting that "mp3" is the most sought out query in China. Will the engines bring music to Universal Search as they have already brought video? This launched a short but vigorous discussion on digital rights, downloading and liability.
The questions will continue as we live and learn more about Universal Search.