Search Is Caveman Speak… And How Our Speech Is Evolving

If you had a log of all the search terms you’ve ever keyed into a search engine, you would laugh in recognizing that each term employs a caveman’s degree of sophistication to express your needs, wants, interests and desires. Now think for a moment who that primal utterance is being communicated to. It’s not Google or Bing, but rather advertisers. The search engines are merely conduits for that conversation. As a consumer, I type my search term and the advertiser responds with an offering (albeit sometimes in optimized rankings as opposed to a paid ad). For as much as I appreciate simplicity, that dialogue is undoubtedly bound to become more sophisticated in the future.

Last week I Tumbl’d about media/tech investment bank LUMA Partners’ depiction of the ad tech landscape. In an effort to further promote this infographic marketing tool, LUMA’s founder, Terrence Kawaja, recorded a webinar titled the Science-ification of Media. It was from the webinar that I pulled this slide which gives a glimpse of what a more sophisticated dialogue between the advertiser and the consumer will look like in the online ecosystem.

purchase funnel

Essentially what he says is that the advertiser won’t need me, as the consumer, to utter my caveman needs via search terms (as much) since the medium of display advertising will be driven by much more intelligent targeting. I will navigate to a page and based on more advanced behavioral and contextual data, the advertiser will know I’m in the market for a motorcycle (a 2001 Triumph Bonneville just in case anyone is brainstorming any gift ideas). As an aside, Kawaja makes the point during the webinar that display is experiencing a shift from art to science which this screen shot doesn’t capture, hence the graph’s key including art and science.

Of course, there arises concerns of privacy issues but above and beyond behavioral and contextual data is opt-in data which immediately mitigates privacy concerns from the get go. There is nothing private about what I’ve made transparent. Though I suppose how long data firms or advertisers could keep this data is up for debate. Nevertheless, this approach of targeting based on interest and preference is already taking place. The best illustration of this exists within the Facebook environment. Not too long ago I indicated that I ‘like’ the Triumph motorcycle brand on Facebook and low and behold, Facebook ads from Triumph and other bike brands began to appear. In my view, this is a great evolution of advertising. I’m not just a demographically ideal target buyer for Triumph, but I’ve actively indicated that I am interested in what they have for sale.

This notion of making my personal interests transparent to advertisers is an exciting one that promises growth and opportunity. This opportunity will be particularly relevant once the information I’ve provided can be utilized across many media destinations. The other component to seizing this opportunity will be gaining wider adoption. I’d gander to say I’m probably an early adopter here and more liberal with the information I share on the web as I understand and believe that more often than not, it makes my web browsing experience a better one. But I have an inkling that just in the way online dating’s stigma has dissipated, so too can the aversion to providing relevant information about oneself indicating their interests. Because in the end, the advertiser really wishes to deliver a more pleasant experience to the consumer anyway. So with that level of mutual understanding, it would seem that ‘conversation’ could evolve from caveman grunts to a sophisticated language with a fluent exchange.

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