What search can learn from TV – Part 1

The most popular question in search is “what’s next”? There are thousands of opinions, blogs, studies and even conferences devoted to this very topic. The masses tend to head toward the thought of defining the perfect search experience, or perfect search engine. Is this really what is needed, the perfect search engine?

How people access content, and how relevant and current that content is, will be the constant factors in this evolution. But can we actually see into the future by learning from the past?

Teach Me, Mr. TV Executive

According to the viewership numbers from Nielsen, U.S. Television grew both in numbers of viewers and time spent per viewer over the past few years. This growth occurred in spite of the fact that time-shifted television viewing, Internet video viewing and mobile video viewing all grew as well.

But the historical leaders in viewership, the old guard of TV networks, have seen a decline in viewership. How can the leaders be failing but the industry thriving?
Television’s audience problem is one of fragmentation. More people may be watching more TV, but they are watching many, many more channels and more vertically specialized programs than they used to. The pie may be bigger, but the slices of that pie are much smaller.

The Fragmentation of Search

The way we consume media and content has changed, and continues to change. Some of the old business models for how content is distributed are failing and failing fast.

What Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft were able to initially provide was the organization of the world’s content. This created the formation of the major network providers of search. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are now the ABC, CBS, and NBC of the 1970’s Television era.

I believe it was not the technology platform that changed people’s behavior to want more specialized TV, but it was their natural intent. Those specialty providers (Food Network, OWN) that rose to provide a portal to better match intent with content succeeded.

But will people always go to Google or Bing to find this content? Or will the development of more direct access points, and quicker paths to content, fragment the search landscape? Will specialty App’s, vertical search engines and social portals each take a slice of the pie? And if so, what will this do to your lead gen, online revenue and marketing strategies?

In Part 2, we will look at what a marketer can do to position themselves to keep pace with search’s evolution.

About the author
Chris Pinkerton is a Senior Account Executive with Mediative