With apologies to Meg Whitman, Marissa Meyer holds the title. At least today, anyway. Meyer is the VP of Search Products & User Experience for Google. She keynoted an event yesterday discussing the future of search – though really she was talking about the future of Google. While it’s likely that the search engine you use five years from now won’t be Google (or, at the very least, not the Google you’re using today), it’s well worth reading how Meyer sees that future unfolding.
- 1800Goog411 – Voice-activated search. Very cool. Get ready for the age of device-independence.
- Universal Search – Elimination of the silos separating image search from news from web from whatever, and so on. It could overwhelm the typical user with the sheer volume of results. But, if the results could somehow know what’s most important to the user, maybe having video, text, images, news and the like about a single topic side-by-side would provide tremendous utility. Which brings us to…
- iGoogle – Personalized home page on Google, incorporating RSS feeds and widgets (which Google calls Gadgets). As search results get increasingly broad, iGoogle should enable Google to understand what you’re looking for specifically when you type in a term like “java” (tropical island, programming language, coffee?). If your Gadgets and RSS feeds indicate a preference for one item over another, then your search results will likely incorporate those preferences. Allows for more targeted advertising, too.
Been thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lately, mostly thanks to "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die", which I reviewed last week. Too many marketers worry about the base needs, such as safety, and fail to address higher-order needs like esteem and self-actualization. Clive Thompson has a great piece in this month’s Wired that helps explain the appeal of Twitter. Social networking is about connection between people. It’s about belonging. It’s about the social, not the networking. Hell, Clive even notes folks who connect to the machine when they can’t connect to people.
More importantly, this need to connect will increase over time as people who grew up with the tools enter adulthood. Andrew McAfee talks about how kids (sorry, younger demographics) view social networking relative to email (And thanks to Anne for the link). Steve Rubel seems to think it’s more about the tool and how it needs to make it easier for folks. It’s probably true and it probably will. But that’s not the point.
If you’re in marketing today and you’re selling anything less than the power of connection, the power of belonging, you’re short-changing your audience. Wake up and join the club.
The Gap has a big problem and it’s one you’re lucky not to have. As Seth Godin wrote the other day, the Gap is trying to shrink its way to greatness. It can’t be done. Unfortunately, as a public company, closing 500 stores in one fell swoop could crush their earnings for a couple of quarters. Few public companies have the stomach for that type of hit. Frankly, few private companies do either. But you’re not bound by those same rules. If something doesn’t work, throw it out and focus on what does.