Coming off the heels of the Search Insider Summit on the beautiful Captiva Island, Fla., I find myself in Barcelona discussing the evolution of marketing. While at SIS, I spoke about how search is strategically critical for an agency, railing on about the lack of focus on search at the search conference. While data, analytics, mobile, and social are all important elements to address -- search is a key thread across all of them.
Now, building from there, I find myself listening to Umair Haque, of Havas Media Labs, discuss how marketing has shifted from being about products and outputs requiring differentiation to being about outcomes and making a difference in the lives of consumers. All the while the news feeds have been swirling with information about Microsoft acquiring Skype with the aim of embedding it into Xbox. There has also been no shortage of opinions and forecasts about the Facebook X-factor because of their need for a Skype-like service and their obvious partnership with Microsoft.
Readers right now might be wondering how all of this fits together. In fact, all of these elements collectively represent the model of success moving forward -- with search helping to cement all of these elements into a cohesive experience, I think. Search has multiple factors in this scenario. First, it's obviously consumers' preferred way of finding anything they want. Second, search data provides massive insight for the marketer because of the inherent intent being expressed as well as the corresponding relevance based on what consumers click on.
In his presentation, Haque said that marketers must increasingly create shared value with their consumers, with both jointly making a difference to society. You see this starting to take shape with brands like Walmart, Nike+, Google, and Apple. Enabling consumers to use products how they want, with the ability to share and be part of a community, creates value.
This is what I think is brilliant about Microsoft's play for Skype. Skype plus Xbox is a powerful combination with the potential to create a lot of value. Xbox has a community with a desire to share and interact with each other. Plus Microsoft already has the partnership with Facebook, who needs a Skype-like service but couldn't make a run at Skype independently. So now you have Skype plus Xbox plus Facebook, which collectively is even more powerful. What Microsoft has here is an infrastructure with transparency of communication, and with Bing integrated across all of this comes the ability to effectively drive relevance. This means I can play games, talk live, and search for movies and products I wish to buy online.
Microsoft listened to its customers and is adding functionality that they want, which in turn is going to make the company lots of money. To me this is clearly what shared value is all about.
Too bad Sony didn't listen or maybe Playstation wouldn't have had to go offline. For those that don't know, Sony legally went after a gentleman that jail broke his Playstation so he could add apps. Shortly after this was settled out of court, a gang of anonymous citizens took down the Playstation Network. Because Sony didn't listen to its consumers, the company now has millions of users offline that can no longer play games against friends online, search the web, stream movies, and/or shop online. Readers, you can dig more into the Sony Platstation Network going offline, here.
This is not shared value.
Microsoft is trying to do what Sony was unable to do, which is creating a value exchange that benefits their customers and the organization. Pretty smart if you ask me (don't worry, I know none of you asked ;-).