Yes, I'm belatedly jumping on the #AlexfromTarget bandwagon, but it's in service of a greater truth that I'm trying to illustrate. Last column, I spoke about the "Unintended Consequences of Technology." I think this qualifies.
A few weeks ago, Amazon announced its latest product, Echo, a smart-speaker that's controlled through voice recognition. Simply say the wake word (not to be confused with safe word) and the device takes your commands -- anything from weather queries to alarm reminders to grocery list additions. This video highlights the range of potential use cases. While the device is available by invitation only and has not yet begun to ship, it's getting good reviews, with some even hailing it as "the computer of the future." So what are the implications for marketers?
Marketers everywhere are looking at their 2015 budgets and asking the same collective question: How am I going to get more customers for less money in search? Higher prices are a headwind for the simple reason of supply and demand: Advertisers are increasing their spending on search ($38 billion estimated in 2017) faster than the rate of searches is increasing. So where should marketers turn for a better return on search spend?
While we've spent years becoming sophisticated content producers, we've been beaten to the punch by Google. Google appears to own the entire Internet's content. Now the company has dramatically changed the way that content is displayed, as part of the Knowledge Graph (KG) effort. From a user standpoint, there's no doubt that the search experience is improving. There are fewer improperly engineered results, and it takes fewer clicks to find what you need. Searchers are presented with answers, not links. However, what's better for users has come at the expense of content producers and search marketers. Why is that?
In last Friday's Online Spin column, Kaila Colbin asks a common question about the noise surrounding the latest digital technologies: Who cares? Kalia rightly points out that we tend to ascribe unearned importance to whatever digital technology we're focused on at any given time. This is called, aptly enough, the focusing illusion in the words of Daniel Kahneman, who coined the term, noting, "Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it."