DAYS OF OUR LIVES
Stephen Baker of BusinessWeek's Blogspotting has an interesting post on Yahoo! Search focusing on "Life Events". Specifically,
"I just received an invitation to their event Oct. 11, when they'll unveil their Marketing Life series. The pitch:
Did you know the average adult experiences 10 to 15 critical life events during their lifetime? Yahoo! Search Marketing Life Series is an ongoing research series that will explore the significance of search as people experience major life events. It will examine the short-term opportunities and long-term implications for marketers and advertisers, and offer a new way to think about search marketing. In the inaugural presentation...we will examine two of these events - Going to College and Having a Baby."
It's good to see the Search majors continuing to think out of the box, and these are but baby steps. Also, I may be wrong, but the Shindin at first glance seems to be focused more on marketing and advertising experience (i.e., "how do we make money off this right away?" rather than search innovation (i.e., "how do we change/tweak/re-introduce search that's more relevant to our users" kind of way). Hopefully Yahoo! is thinking about it deeper than just the marketing side (even though it's important for this and all shareholders).
With all the talk in recent months about "contextual search" and "personalized search" and "vertical search", there does seem to be a need for an "event-driven search" (I'll refer to it as EDS for the remainder of the post).
This topic has been on my mind of late, but I've thought it as a much more continual opportunity than just "Major Life Events Search", which implies a dozen or so events in a person and/or family's life.
It has more to do with search as a continual way of life, with dozens events, which if not Major with a capital "M", are certainly major with a small "m".
But it goes beyond that...almost an "event time-line driven search". For example it's not just about "having a baby", but all the stages before, during and way after that are important to consider...and they last not just days and weeks but months and years. And it becomes not just about the one user, but all the people around that user's event (a time-line driven combinatorial opportunity).
These EDSes obviously encompass context, personalization and vertical search, not to mention geographic search, local search, social network search, blog search, tag search and multi-community search, and almost any other type of search one can think of.
It becomes an opportunity of EDSes that need to be done even when the user is not even thinking of going to the web to search for relevant resources.
Something like this can be algorithmically programmed to continue through the stages of the "major event" in question and gently remind/suggest opportunities to the user. Not in a spammy/markety, "have I got a deal for you" kind of way, but almost in a self-help, "these are the next series of things you should be thinking about" and "trying to be a helpful friend" and "I really don't care if you buy anything or not" kind of way.
The question becomes how does one implement something like this...technically alone it's a humdinger of an execution challenge, not to mention figuring out how to think about the on-going user-interface around it and how to monetize it.
Big challenges and big opportunities. Good to see it's being kicked around already by the big boys.