Curt Dalton has found a way to turn marketing on its head. The 36-year- old economics major, based near Boston, will launch a search engine by the end of the month that identifies demand for products and services, so marketers can fill the supply.
The search engine, NowRelevant.com, integrates a technology dubbed The Internet Time Machine that took a team of engineer and mathematicians about two years to design and build. The cost: about $200,000. The technology, originally designed to help affiliate marketers identify trending businesses, went live earlier this month as a separate service.
The Internet Time Machine offers three major marketing tools. It identifies thousands of things being written about on the Web within the last hour by searching for phrases based on nouns. The tool can improve search optimization and anchor text. Another feature identifies growing trends where's there's a lack of content, both in organic search results and paid search ads. And finally, the software identifies long-term trends to help marketers entrepreneurs build on ideas.
The technology starts with Web crawlers and bots that collect data from across the Internet. The software parses out nouns and proper nouns to identify products and ideas, stores the information to keep a score card, and creates a trend line. "If a new product comes out of South Korea called a Chocolate Chip Teddy Bear that will become the next Cabbage Patch doll, how would you know about," Dalton says. "If you knew about it, you could make clothes for it, market it or become an affiliate."
Google might index the Chocolate Chip Teddy Bear Web site, along with mentions in blog posts and exchange forums. But unless you know the product exists and search for it by name, it would be difficult to find in normal search results.
Dalton's software team developed tracks blog posts, articles, mentions, new Web sites from across the Web. After finding and tracking mentions of products and services, the technology compares the mentions with supply to develop an algorithmic number that determines the intensity of the trend.
Dalton, who made enough money to start this business after spearheading advertising and marketing for an online gambling site, says it's all about the data. For example, recent data identifies a spike in people searching for cheerleading videos, but not many companies have bought Google paid search ads to help people find instructional videos that provide tips on formations and jumps.
When I mention NowRelevant as a tool for Wall Street, Dalton tells me hedge fund analysts want the technology to identify opportunities for small cap companies looking to develop product ideas. Educators have also contacted him.
Dalton says the artificial intelligence built into The Internet Time Machine software will integrate into the paid search ad campaign platform offered by NowRelevant.com. Alerts will let marketers know when related products or services trend. Dalton says the company will market the engine to young buyers, the Facebook and Twitter crowd, who just want current information about a subject.
NowRelevant.com emerged as an afterthought, Dalton says. The company's software engineers had to develop a "Google" to run The Internet Time Machine algorithms. And while the engine relies on technology similar to Google PageRank, using in- and outbound links, it also eliminates the litter across the Internet, such as SEO spam sites and dummy Web sites set up for one keyword.
A trend toward identifying demand based on search, and then building supply, appears to have emerged across several media. Both Demand Media and AOL have programs that identify through search queries the demand for specific topics across their respective publishing networks. Once they identify the demand, supply in the form of written articles and ads populate the sites.