For my last column of 2010, I'd like to take a little detour from my usual subject matter and tell you about someone very special to me. I'd like to introduce you to my Uncle Jim, who passed away on Christmas day. He was, in many ways, a precursor to the connected world we write about constantly in this column.
'Tis the season when everyone and their mother makes industry predictions for the coming year. Well, except my mother, that is... the only thing she's trying to guess is when my twins will be born! Most of the lists I've seen so far have been pretty safe -- and prognosticators will pat themselves on their backs for 50% accuracy. I'm going to go out on some limbs here and make some crazy predictions to stir the pot a little bit. If I get any one of these right (sans #10) I'll expect some serious back-patting.
A few weeks ago, just in time for the holiday shopping season, Google launched "local availability" in its Product Search for desktop searches, presenting a fantastic new opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to share product availability at locations local to the searcher. According to Google, while 46% of retail sales are influenced by Web searches, more than 90% of retail transactions occur in a brick-and-mortar store location. Several "big box" retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Kmart are already using the functionality, but smaller, local-based retailers will have the chance in the future to take part in local availability as well.
Based on the horror stories of those who have been traveling to and from the snowy regions of the world, I should consider myself lucky. All my immediate family and in-laws live in northern California, so I had only wet highways to contend with, even if it was hundreds of miles of them. As is my usual ritual, I carefully studied all the billboard advertising as we zipped around. The farther out from the Bay region one travels, the more the billboards are about the usual consumery stuff. But while still in the Bay Area, one consistently encounters billboards for …
Last week, I explored how two parts of our brain, the nucleus accumbens and the anterior insula, are key in driving our buying behaviors. I compared them to the gas pedal and brake of our buying "engine." The balance between the two is key to understanding how we are driven towards our ultimate decisions. The nucleus accumbens drives our anticipation of an emotional reward, and the anterior insula creates anxiety around areas of risk. As it turns out, you can plot the two as the axes of a matrix on which, theoretically, you could plot any purchase.
Another year at an end, and another year-end list. Here are my Search Insider columns for 2010, catalogued with some additional thoughts. Thanks for reading.
Over the course of 2010 we have seen an evolution in search vertically, with improvements in localization, personalization, and its convergence with social media. We have also seen a horizontal shift from a siloed approach to an increased focus on attribution and performance media. It's time to make some 2011 resolutions.
It's official: in 2010, the internet categorically surpassed newspapers in advertising revenue in the U.S., which means it's second only to television among ad mediums, according to today's AdAge. While that may be bad news for newspapers (and all dead-tree publishers, really), it's yet another indication, if one is needed, of the relentless domination of the advertising landscape by the digital realm.
Earlier this week, Google emailed thank-you cards out to advertisers. Each contained a "personalized" video that showed company names in a variety of BIG ways to say thanks. It was super-cool; even though you knew it was an automated template, you couldn't help but feel special. This got me thinking about personalization and privacy.
One of the more controversial applications of new neurological scanning technologies has been a quest by marketers for the mythical "buy button" in our brains. So far, no magical nook or cranny in our cranium has given marketers the ability to foist whatever crap they want on it, but a couple of parts of the brain have emerged as leading contenders for influencing buying behavior.