Surf Canyon’s Chief Scientist, David Hardtke, Ph.D., participated in a panel discussion at Alternative Search Engines Day. The topic of the panel was “Users First: Give them WHAT they want, the WAY they want (and need).” Also on the panel were Jaideep Singh of Spock, Siva Kumar or TheFind, and Rob Rustad of Collarity. The panel was moderated by Gerd Zobel of Healthpricer and focused on creating a better search experience for the user.
Each company represented has a unique improvement to the conventional user search experience. Collarity improves the user experience by finding subgroups with the web site audience and tailoring content to theses subgroups. TheFind is a shopping site that improves the user experience by having a rich user interface and by having the deepest product catalog in many areas (over 220 million items are in their database). Spock focuses on one of the more difficult verticals within search (people). Spock utilizes both user generated content and vertical specific tagging techniques to improve the search experience.
Surf Canyon was unique at Alternative Search Engines Day in that we were to only company represented that is developing technology for the general horizontal search market, although our technology can greatly enhance vertical search engines as well.
The participants at ASE day are nominally competitors, the theme of the day was cooperation. Collectively, alternative search engines represent a mere 1.7% of the search market. The private discussions during the breaks proved to be enlightening as we were able to freely talk about the common challenges facing alternative search technologies.
Largest amongst these challenges is getting people to use “alternative” search products. Many of the participants were content to be “second click” search engines that collect traffic from the major search engines and help users in specific verticals. None of the people with whom we spoke had yet figured out how to generate recurring traffic without the major search engines acting as a gateway. Everyone in the room, however, agreed that providing a superior user experience over the major search engines is the necessary prerequisite for widespread consumer adoption.
Above: David Hardtke, Ph.D., Chief Scientist at Surf Canyon, speaks at the Alternative Search Engines Day Conference.