Report from the ad tech conference in Chicago

Last summer I attended one of those geeky tech conferences I love to attend–along with several hundred other attendees curious to hear advance notice about the “next big thing” in online marketing.

Most people were there from the major corporations’ marketing departments. They were in search of the elusive killer app that will bring an even greater ROI in their online marketing efforts.

First I should report on last year to give you some perspective on this year’s trends:Last year’s hot topic was Social Media (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) and how to best gain a presence and hopefully a new customer from that cyber space presence. UGM (User Generated Media) was just starting to show up on the radar. The UGM created for FritoLay’s Super Bowl spot was not yet created.

Now we are in the era of multiple streams of UGM. Do a search on YouTube for just about any brand you can name, and you’ll find something there.

This year’s seminars focused on how best to serve the person who’s using a search engine to find a product or service. Giving the most relevant search results are part of a good branding strategy.

We’ve all probably experienced clicking on a search result on Google and wondering how the heck that page was even related to what we’re searching for. It’s especially frustrating when a site visitor arrives at a site and has to click several more times to get to what they’re looking for. This user experience does not a happy customer make.

Imagine that you’ve done the research and you know you want a certain model of scanner. You type in the make and model into Google and you’re given several results with that model listed. You click on the top link and end up being taken to a page with copiers, printers, inks, accessories, etc. When you’re pressed for time and ready to buy that result is probably not going to make you feel as warm and fuzzy towards that vendor as arriving at a page with just the right info when you’re actually in the mood to buy.

Let’s say you get tired of trying to find the item on the first site and click on the second search result. And it takes you right to a page about that item with all the info you need. One click arrival path. Which vendor gets your business–and perhaps your repeat business.

The overall good news for consumers is meeting our needs with relevant when we arrive at a search engine is now the hot new marketing strategy. The marketing folks call it Search Engine Conversion strategies.