Search, Shopping, Data, and Vendors

Posted by on August 8th, 2013

“Organize the world’s information.” “Put computing everywhere.”

These are Google’s lofty goals, and I’d say they’re making significant headway. Data is huge, and companies, located primarily in Silicon Valley, are striving to provide real-time data to its users, whether you’re on a mobile device or a desktop. How many times have you browsed an online shop, only to see the items in web ads later that day? It’s no coincidence, and marketers know it connects you to brands, and most importantly, drives sales.  But consumers aren’t complaining.

For the most part, consumers love seeing relevant content in their web searches; it shows us that companies are paying attention to our wants and needs. (I can’t speak for the fringe.) On the flip side, though, we’re never sure what they’re doing with it. Past searches, purchases, reading habits, etc. are all fair game in Internet love and war. Marketers want to get as personal as possible with consumers, with data mining as a prime tactic.

But while most people are fawning over Silicon Valley, search innovation, and hardware, Doc Searls, editor at Linux Journal, is interested in better controlling our personal data. In his book The Intention Economy, Searls wrote, “The Intention Economy grows around buyers, not sellers. It leverages the simple fact that buyers are the first source of money, and that they come ready-made. You don’t need advertising to make them.”

The intention economy is a positive for consumers, who search for their wants or needs and in turn, should receive customized solutions to the problem.

Of course, this requires consumers to want to be in control of their own personal data, giving it only to preferred brands and metering access.  As the internet grows older and the online marketplace grows exponentially, consumers will become savvier and will want to limit push marketing. The vendors that understand this will thrive and become preferred brands.

Thoughts on the online marketplace? Do you freely give out information to vendors, as long as the content is relevant?