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Search is Still King

The American Advertising Federation recently convened a conference to discuss the impact of new technologies on media consumption (via AdAge). Mike Kelly, president of AOL Media Networks, sums up the takeaway: "Consumers are now leading the discussion... Three or four years ago, convergence was a joke. Now it's really happening."

This convergence has been made possible through the dual forces of the growing ubiquity of broadband and on-demand media platforms, and the quick infusion of online advertising dollars, which are now projected to grow from $12 billion last year to $26 billion by 2010.   

AOL is one of several portals leveraging these trends to reposition as a personalized, branded media hub. Yesterday, USA Today reported, "Microsoft's MSN and arch-rivals Google and Yahoo also are beginning to act, look and feel like networks in everything they do. They want to be programmers — just like traditional TV networks, only wielding tools that help you navigate the new universe of hundreds upon hundreds of Web sites and channels." I would add consumer generated media (CGM) to the content universe.

CGM represents a powerful, and increasingly rich, form of online content. The Brightcove blog (via BostonGlobe) recently referenced the interesting concept of a "prosumer." Prosumers are a "booming category of digital media hobbyist taking advantage of professional-grade video, photo and music tools." Rapidly growing access to broadband, mobile media and distributed storage, will catapult the volume of video-centric CGM available through emerging content hubs like AOL.

As the portal evolution takes place, the value proposition for consumers will increasingly focus on "noise reduction."   

Signalnoise_2_3

Chris Anderson has another great graphic to illustrate this dynamic. As diversity and volume of content increases (the long tail), the ability for consumers to have relevant media experiences hinges on filtering.

Two filtering mechanisms work in tandem in this environment: 1) emergent content hubs are popping up as brands that consumers trust for verification, and 2) branded content hubs provide platforms for peer-driven reviews and recommendations.

From a marketing perspective, noise reduction, or "search," is still king. It's just taking on new forms, which are more robust, personalized and multidimensional. Search strategy will evolve along side changes to AOL, MSN, Yahoo and Google. And it will increasingly focus on content targeting for niche communities, and the mobilization of affinity groups and customer evangelists to co-create the media used in marketing communications.

June 16, 2005 | Permalink

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