There are two powers I feel are essential to unlocking the future
of relevance in digital marketing.
1) The power of user control
2) The power of information correlations
This is not new. You may have noticed the past few months
that I keep referencing Google in my writing and presentations on this subject.
This is because search has always best exemplified the relevance that can be
delivered with a marriage of content and control. We can learn so much from
what has made search successful.
Google Search is after all a product. Maybe the greatest
product ever created because it’s free to users yet its value to publishers and
advertisers is of epic and ever growing importance. It’s also no accident that
the success is due to the fact that Google is an information product. Or that
delivery of its information is controlled by user inputs and self-selection.
Information also happens to be the most valuable asset in a
market driven economy. Information powers decisions. Information powers
persuasion. Information, as Ogilvy said, is what advertising should be about.
One challenge in digital media the past decade has been
creating alternate information discovery and recovery solutions in channels
outside of search. Summize (now Twitter Search) is a great example
of a recent product that got it right. The value of information is not in
publishing it but in the distribution and discovery of it.
In my opinion Twitter Search is a far more powerful app than
even Twitter itself — though one wouldn’t be possible without the other — and
that’s the point. Site search platforms like Endeca and targeted content
delivery systems like richrelevance also push the needle ahead. Surely YouTube and Facebook are as much about searching as anything else. The last vestige seems to be display advertising. I know we're making progress there as well.
Herbert Simon said (back in 1971!!!) that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of
attention,” and that we “need to allocate that attention efficiently
among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
APIs can do exactly that! They provide us the tools to improve
how we allocate information and attention efficiently. APIs allow us to rethink
when, where and how we discover and recover information. But in doing so APIs also cry out for us to start thinking like a search engine — if for no other reason than because no one has solved
Simon’s poverty of attention problem better than Search.
Search, because of its user controls and high degrees of
relevance delivery has conditioned us in how we want and need to have
information delivered. APIs can benefit from the fact that even when people are
not actively doing a search they always have primary, secondary and latent
goals in their mind as they surf the web.
Aristotle understood that no matter what he said, relevance was
the divine provenance of the listener. As marketers and advertisers we would be
wise to heed his wisdom. Now we have the technology to do it – anywhere on the web.
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