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Sunday, April 13, 2003

Zeitgeist, Lies, and Videotape

For a certain segment of marketers, the Lycos 50 and the like provide interesting info on hot trends.

But for the vast majority of businesspeople, such as those attending my recent Nielsen Norman seminar, when you tell them that they can find out about the top 50 most popular keywords that week, they just shake their heads and say "what good is that"?

So then I painted them a scenario - what if a major search engine would sell you detailed information about search patterns on as many topics as you want info on - say for $5,000 for a really detailed, real time report showing spikes in interest? They just echoed back to me what I'd already taught them in the morning session - why not just spend $100 piloting a Google Adwords or Overture campaign (or both), and get all the search frequency data you need for any term in your industry that you want to test?

Never before has so much real time info about consumer behavior been available to so many businesses of all shapes and sizes. It's only a matter of time before people start gathering and selling this kind of data, or otherwise trying to capitalize on it. Oh wait, they already are: I received spam today that made its case for the usual member-expanding potions by trotting out the fact that "according to a major search engine, 15,000 people searched for the term penis enlargement last month, and 5,800 searched for the term sexual performance. Don't kid yourself bucko, she is more obsessed about it than you think!"... or something to that effect.

Sudden bulges in consumer attention on hot topics might be interesting to track for mass marketers, or media looking for hot stories. These things have a lot of uses, obviously, but for those that can't use them, they're pretty much a distraction from the real business of reaching targeted customers.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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