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The Sphere of Information Distribution & Consumption

Sphereofinfojpg_1

It’s a simple truth: we gravitate toward the information we are interested in. This information sits in many different places. We access it in many different ways and we use it in infinitely more ways. In the online world these 0s and 1s are the window to our life. Information on the work we do, the hobbies we have, our family, everything. Many links to a central node of relevance. You.

As consumers of digital information we decide what is relevant to us. We are in control. We pick the content we want to read, choose the RSS feeds. We choose where and want we want to pay attention to. About 30% contribute back across all demos. Helping either to produce information, helping others find it or both. That number is growing fast. Blogs, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, these are the tools that enable a many-to-many conversation to take place. That is why tools are at the core of the sphere of digital information. This is the fundamental shift that defines 2.0.

Increasingly, it is more about the tools than the data. The value of data becomes increasingly diminished the more it gets democratized. When that happens it becomes the tools that deliver relevance that have value and can be monetized. That is why our old information models are dying and new ones are growing.

My case in point of course is Search. For the vast majority the cycle of information begins with search. It is this sphere of information that Google is leveraging to deliver PSERPS (I guess you pronounce it the same?) Personalized search results work because you are at the center of the data. Everything is linked to you either literally or figuratively, with hrefs or with cookies. Google becomes a tool that recognizes and leverages your consumption patterns and feeds you relevance. It is this relevance that has the value. In the first part of the sphere it is Google that delivers the information awareness and holds attention over discovery.

For publishers and advertisers this technology and fragmentation makes traditional means of marketing obsolete. That was clearer than ever with this year’s Super Bowl Ads. Or you can look everyday how few print ads there are. Their challenge, much discussed of late, is how to get a share of user attention when there is an avalanche of new content and information being produced each day and the information consumption universe is entirely user controlled.

Many are now buying or building their own tools. Others have tried building networks but the networks are also about the tools. Ultimately the only way to ensure success is by creating and delivering relevance to users bopping around in their own little worlds, doing what they’ve always done with information. Using it.

Thought provoking bloggers that inspired me on this subject:

Umair Haque

Rand Fishkin

Brad Burnham

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Comments

So what is this called? Many online searches do not use a search engine. A person many times just follows links from one article to the other. I did this from this post and found some wonderful content from PEW on Web 2.0 and user created content. Because of this I use a term that is more all encompassing, “search optimization” or the process of marketing with it, “search optimization marketing.”

Search Optimization Marketing (SOM) is a comprehensive holistic online marketing approach to making websites, forums, podcasts and other online content easy to search for and find. These marketing efforts are not restricted to just the search engines and even include more traditional marketing efforts that are designed to make locating the desired relevant content easier to find.

Search Optimization Marketing efforts does include, but are not limited to, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Search optimization marketing includes traditional directories, local directories, press releases, social bookmarking, links from other sites, using targeted URLs in traditional advertising, online video, podcasts, banner ads, targeted landing pages and much more. This is based on the reality that a users search encompasses many other methods beyond the search engines. Search optimization marketing also includes usability design standards, and understandable navigation features. SOM also takes advantage of folksonomy and enables social influencers that recommend targeted relevant content such as sites like Digg, Reddit and Technorati.

Search optimization marketing best practices requires that special provisions be made not only at the site level but in all aspects of a company’s marketing efforts to enable and enhance all aspects of the search experience. This means making content locatable with or with out the search engines and incorporates a wide range of tactics and practices.

search engine marketing (SEM)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_marketing

search engine optimization (SEO)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seo

digg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg

technorati
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technorati

Thanks for your thoughts Gerry. I agree, it must be a more holistic view than search "engines"

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