Today's column is written by Jonathan Mendez, founder of Yieldbot.
One of the most exciting and disruptive things going on right now in digital media is the rise of new businesses harvesting intent and making it available for advertisers outside the confines of Google. Companies are building demand capture systems for advertisers that sit in other parts of the web ecosystem outside the Search appliance. These are truly new and vast marketplaces that can more directly connect consumers to relevant messaging.
Intellectually we know that Google neither creates nor fulfills intent. Google sits as a switchboard operator routing it and collecting a service fee to route it more directly and with more volume to your business. Google makes roughly $20B a year in Search advertising (2010) because technology has not advanced enough to remove the need for a switchboard. That will change.
The interesting thing about switchboard operators is that they eventually became unnecessary. Technology advanced in ways that could bypass them. With direct dial parties became able to connect directly to each other without the need for a switchboard. While directories like The Yellow Pages and 411 were large businesses (until they too got disrupted) direct dial gave rise to a new businesses model once a city got an area code. Automatically connecting those codes (long distance) ultimately proved to be more a much more lucrative business. That is what’s happening here.
As more directed ad calls based on intent are made the value of intent increases and new value is created. That’s the most amazing part. The decentralization of intent just like that of phone companies will create new players in various regions of the web. And just like the rise in direct dial for cities, channels that don’t have this technology will miss out. Montreal didn’t have direct dial service until 1958, 7 years after Cleveland, Ohio.
Ad dollars and humans have one thing in common. Both generally follow the path of least resistance. It makes sense that if relevant messages are presented to people in the context of their current location or click stream they will act within that context of that experience. Advertisers are gaining the ability to make more direct calls. As Richard Harris, CEO of Intent Media recently expressed to me:
"Intent exists anywhere and everywhere that a person chooses to express it. Initially much of that intent was beyond reach. It was too diffused. It was too fleeting. But we've now advanced to the point that it's possible aggregate and render actionable intent well beyond the confines of the search box."
Some of you may be saying how is this different than AdSense? The key differentiation is that these new technologies are sitting first party and working with that data and doing complex realtime and domain level decisioning that is not possible in AdSense. AdSense is words. This is an understanding of the visitor in context of the events driving their session and algorithms based off data specific to that domain and those events. So this is not only words - this is action. Actions speak louder. With direct dialing intent will become even more loud, clear and connected.