James Cherkoff tells us a nice little story about how tight marketing programs, the nice shop in a nice part of town, well trained sales people, the glossy leaflets and the good reputation of certain type of kitchen brand has been made obsolete by one single search on the web about what other customers of this brand had to say. The opinions were mostly negative and James ended up cancelling his order.
Of course, you would always have consulted other sources – most of all your closest peers – about opinions on any high involvement product or service. But the chances that you find many sources with the same brand of kitchen (car, dishwasher, etc.) in your closest range of peers was and is rather limited.
With todays possibilities to find opinions on anything on the web (even stuff you didn’t want to know about), it is ever more important for brands to keep their promises. People are fearing the moment of the totally transparent consumer, but hey, brands already face this complete transparency!
Clever, very clever indeed. Google announces the Open Hand Set Alliance and liberates the 33 participating mobile phone operators from the claws of proprietary systems. From the Google Blog:
Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile.
It appears to carry very similar objectives as OpenSocial which was announced only last week. Google seems to favour open standards, so that the web as a plattform and mobile phones as the future personal device for everything will stay open and free. This should enable innovation to the benefit of the user, no doubt about that! But it might also serve Google quite well.
Why? I can only guess: Googles revenue models are still mostly built on advertising. So Google needs scalability in customer reach, which they can only keep increasing with ready access to information and users. As social networks are obviously becoming the dominating platforms for users to interact with, and mobile devices probably being the first choice for going „online“, then Google needs to be able to freely play on these grounds.
In the future, I think the key to revenue will most likely not reside in just delivering content, i.e. producing or transporting it, since there will be soooo much of it. And it is very labour intensive to produce it. Instead, it is much more efficient to
- intelligently aggregate and sort content (which Google already does)
- adequately aligning this content to the needs, preferences – and most importantly: intentions of the users.
Regarding the second point, I think it is fairly obvious that Google should be way ahead of the competition in gathering the necessary user data. Think about Google Toolbar, Google Analytics and Google AdSense, nevermind the main site, the search engine itself. They should have better tracking data than anybody else, which they can put to work for solving the second point above.
One thing that can stop the (nearly) endless scaling of Google’s model into the long tail of every single social media profile and mobile device is „artificial“ restrictions such as walled gardens and operating systems. So: very clever to launch initiatives to at least partially open up social networks and mobile phone operating systems.
Read/writeweb has an interesting observation. Apparently Amazon has started to place ads on their site that lead to products in shops on completely different sites. Some ads are contextual, others are not. And Alex asks, why on earth Amazon would do something like that, i.e. sending people out of their shop to go somewhere else?
Here are a few thoughts why it might make sense:
- People might remember that they found what they were looking for when visiting the amazon site. Sort of like Google whose tools are all more or less designed to send people away. AFTER they found what they were looking for.
- Amazon should know the parts of the site where they are loosing the most users anyway, simply because of natural drop out rates that always occur on sites. This way, they can at least earn some money with people who would never have purchased anything in the first place, too. Question is: would they also integrate the banners on pages with well-selling products?
- Learning about the click behaviour for products that amazon doesn’t list, is really clever (and paid for) market research into the gaps of their product offering.
- Who says, that margins of products sold are always better than advertising revenue. Most of the web 2.0 sites base their business model on advertising revenue rather than actual products. Amazon can probably offer a good, if not the best, targeting based on their recommendation engine. Does anyone know what they charge per click or per CPM? I bet it’s dearer than most sites you can put your ads on. (And it should well be worth the money!)
These are just four thoughts that immediately came into my mind, why it could possibly make sense for amazon to start placing ads on their site. Any other ideas, anyone?
In this article on Read/Write Web (while I am still at it), there are three points, where Google says, that advertising needs to go:
- Advertisers need to get better at creating a 1:1 experience for their users. As an example, she cited the work that Cadillac did with their MyCadillac campaign.
- Advertisements need to continue increasing personalization. This was surprising to me, given that I don’t believe Google has publicly announced any plans to incorporate behavioral targeting into their ad delivery system.
- Users are demanding the delivery of information to be an experience and advertising must respond to it, just like content needs to.
Not really new points, but it doesn’t hurt to reemphasize them. I also find it interesting that the one thing that made creative ad agencies puzzle (text based search advertising) – because it reduced the need for (admittingly more expensive) creatives – is something Google says, we must move away from. Instead, we should increasingly make it an experience. I have been saying this all along, but now even Google recommends experience-richer content.
One other thing I found in that article: I didn’t even know that Yahoo! actually owns the patent for search advertising! This is interesting.
When Google started doing this type of advertising, Overture (acquired by Yahoo) had been delivering similar ads for years. This is why Yahoo owns patent #6,269,361 – which Google licensed from Yahoo right before the Google IPO.
Another field which Google took from Yahoo! (or Overture, in this case) and made it successful.
The Searchnomics Conference just took plave a few days ago. Read/Write Web covers the presentation of Marissa Mayer of Google, who talked about 8 areas Google is currently working on (or has launched only recently), which will define the future of search:
Automated translation: According to Mayer, someday in the future Google could automatically search content in all languages and present all the translated results to the user on the same page, regardless of language!
Book search: they are adding metadata about books, so that Google’s algorithms can understand what the book is about, relevant references, and availability of the content.
Images and video: one of their recent changes is to include all web videos into Google search; it is no longer limited to content within Google Video
Voice search: a free phone service that you can call to perform a voice search. As the usage of this system rises, the increasing number of samples of user input will be used to improve voice-to-text technology; users are, in effect, training the system to recognize voice commands
Universal search: the blending of different types of content, such as images and news, into the main search engine
Maps and local search: There are some interesting new advances in this area – for example, Google Maps now supports traffic display, based on data licensed from third parties…
Client software: Google Gears and Gadgets: Google Gadgets enables third-party developers to create tiny applications that live on the desktop and connect to the web in the background to pull in information from the web. Google Gears provides a browser plug-in that, in Mayer’s words, takes Ajax applications and makes them better.
iGoogle: As an example, Mayer said that although she’s a big fan of Netflix, she probably would not make it her home page; with a gadget, however, Netflix could still establish a presence within her home page
One of the most interesting things for me is, however, how people get so excited about Marissa Mayer:
At the end of the session, I had the opportunity to meet her briefly [certainly one of the high points of the conference for me!]
Admittingly, she is pretty. And supposedly, she is also very smart. But the main things is positioning. She is a pretty and clever girl in a world of geeks.