NBCU, Blinkx, Yahoo at iHollywood

This was a great session at iHollywood with three really different, really bright folks (full disclosure: I work with one of the panelists and kind of have to say that about him, but I don’t need to say that about the other two, and even objectively they were all great). This is all in their words. I’ll try to massage some analysis into the next column, since I’ll undoubtedly write the next Search Insider on all of this.

In Search of Media
* Marc Esper, VP Search, NBC Universal
* Jyri Kidwell, Entertainment Category Director – Search Marketing, Yahoo
* Federico Grosso, SVP Business Development, Blinkx
Moderator: Michael Stroud, Co-founder & CEO, iHollywood Forum

Q: If you don’t focus on search, are you dead in the water?
NBC: Search is more of a browser. Huge traffic driver. Ingrained behavior. Big for offline marketing campaigns. If they’re going to a search engine and they get 10 different options, they need to present themselves as the best option. 1/3 of traffic comes from search, on average. Some time ago (before focusing on search), did a search on Yahoo for Olympics – came up #17. “That’s unacceptable.”

Paid search is a great way to jumpstart it. Also accelerates SEO with blog outreach. 40% of SEO is on-site, 60% off-site (a la linking). Shows tend to rank really well – “Office” ranks better than Microsoft, others

Yahoo: Search is a great tool for after you become aware to find what you’re looking for. Awareness process will happen offline though. Search is the next step. Yahoo also plays role in awareness – they drive from awareness, then search, then go online, then they watch the show. They’re looking to be a platform to drive awareness.

Q: Role of Search & Discovery
Blinkx: Working with publishers and broadcasters to make sure that whether or not you’re searching for something you can still find relevant content. Technology comparable to reading a title of a book vs. the whole book, comparing meta data to the video itself. Now can identify what is written within an image – eg, a street sign.

Q: Can you tell the difference between George Bush and Osama Bin Laden?
Blinkx: Facial recognition is the next step. We’re not quite there yet. Speech to text is still relied on heavily.

Yahoo: Difference in types of content. Two groups of searchers after a show – 1) Catch-up searcher missed the episode. Get back to the water cooler. 2) I want to go deeper, engage, talk about passion. Getting into message boards, talking to friends, doing mashups – anything. Not all searches are the same.