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When The Average Man on the Street Isn't

Published: June 1, 2007

Author: David Rodnitzky

A quick post on a strange phenomenon I’ve noticed recently in the Wall Street Journal. In the past month, I’ve seen two of my friends from the SEM world quoted in the paper – Ellen Siminoff, CEO of Efficient Frontier, and Matt Schnuck, CEO of Trouve Media.

Now both Ellen and Matt are clearly experts on SEM – Ellen being an early Yahoo exec and the CEO of the biggest bid management company on the planet, and Matt being an early Quinstreet employee and the CEO of a very successful online lead generation company. So you might think that there is nothing unusual about either of them getting quoted as experts in a major media publication.

The strange thing here, however, is that both are being quoted as the “average man”, in stories without any focus on paid search. Ellen was quoted a few weeks ago as a user of the new travel Web site, Yapta.com (which, by the way, does sound pretty cool). Matt, on the other hand, appeared yesterday as a “wedding attendee” of a guy who uploaded his wedding video online.

Granted, both of these stories have something to do with the Internet, but in neither case is it revealed that Ellen and Matt are actually Internet experts. It would be like doing a story about the NBA and interviewing “sports fans” Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

For the record, I don’t really have an angle on this post – I am not criticising the WSJ for quoting search experts in non-search stories (and for that matter, if they want to quote me on any random issue, I have an opinion on everything . . .). I suspect that a writer at the Journal use to write a lot about search and made some connects in the industry as a result.

The next time I read their “money and investing” section and see a quote from “small business owner” “Donald Trump”, I may be a little more skeptical.

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