At the past Search Insider Summit, we invited Michelle Prieb and Jen Milks from Ball State University to come and give us an outsider's view of search from a Gen:Next perspective. Little did we realize that by inviting two "digital anthropologists" into our midst, we were also giving them a unique opportunity to conduct an ethnographic analysis of the vocabulary, customs and quirks of the Search Insider tribe. Here's their report....
The last decade has been an age of connectedness for society and brands online, and the ability to maintain one-to-one communications with an audience is now evident in many different channels across the internet. But while brands have become increasingly connected, they have fallen grossly short of the goal when it comes to maintaining an ongoing live presence and relationship with their audience;
I have a friend who is a bit, shall we say, retiring. On Facebook, he goes by his alter ego: an ASCII mouse with a fictional name. He's selective about his buddies in real life and even more selective online; the alter ego gives him the ability to participate in social networking while retaining what little measure of privacy he can. And, from the perspective of Facebook, there should be no issue with this. My friend's social network profile is exclusively for personal use. It's his only account and he connects only with people he knows well. Unfortunately for him, ...
The old adage ending in "location, location, location" seems to be true once again, only this time it's gone mobile.While Foursquare is indisputably the most buzzed-about service and seems to have the most traction with advertisers, the big players are already in the game, or are about to be. And search engine marketers are getting involved, ensuring that "Like"-enabled Web sites, and their associated Facebook Pages, are well-optimized to take advantage of location-based check-ins with "Like" features.
For years, I have wondered why Yahoo continued to clutter its homepage as Google took more and more market share with its simplistic design. I think the new Yahoo commercial makes it very clear what's happening. Yahoo is not Google. Although it's jumping ship on search by partnering with Microsoft, I think we are now experiencing a much more focused Yahoo. It's the leader in display advertising, and its strategists are embracing this strength.
I've said before that "technology doesn't cause our behaviors to change, it enables our behaviors to change." The difference is subtle but profound. Let me give you an example.
Nearly one year ago, fellow Search Insider Gord Hotchkiss declared, "Search needs an iPhone." With this "mobile Web and computing device.... [Apple] intended to vault over the competition, changing the rules and opening a new marketplace. Apple strategists had nothing short of revolution on their minds." Two recent events make it pretty clear that Apple feels the same way about search as it does/did about the phone.
With respect to Bonnie Tyler, we need a hero. We look around the search space, and every major player is, well, a major player -- and flexing its muscles accordingly. These are not the scrappy underdogs giving it their all to overcome monumental odds; these are the Goliaths, the Leviathans. And they swallow any new company that starts to look even remotely interesting.
With its comparative maturity and quickly evolving landscape, search poses a unique challenge: the need to better integrate while not losing specialization. Similar to social, there are again vast operational and scale differences market to market. The challenge here is to offer a world-class specialized service that can fully integrate as needed, while allowing for local customization.