In my last post, I talked about how Trusted Sources will change Search. If you didn’t read, I suggest you do so. But if you’re unwilling, here’s a quick summary of the post:
- What Are Trusted Sources? The people you and others have chosen to trust for information on a given topic.
- Why Twitter Lists?They are the first good, leverageable implementation of Trusted Sources.
- What’s a Trust Network? An outward-spreading wave of Trusted Sources, starting with your own selections, and moving outward through the Trusted Sources your selections have made, the sources they have selected, and so on.
- How will Trusted Sources impact search? Search will let you leverage your Trusted Sources as the starting point for the search, walking your Trust Network, validating the results returned based on other factors, and giving you search results in which you have greater faith.
In this post, I cover the following:
- How Advertisers Will Leverage Lists
- Querying Your Trusted Sources
- Advertisers Vie to Become Trusted Sources
- Ads Become Offers or Bids for Your Business
I’ve already blogged about the fact that Lists pave the way for advertising. To recap that, when Twitter begins serving ads, Lists will provide a simple but effective way to target the ads. Lists usually center on a topic, providing ad targeting information similar to that provided when a user enters a keyword in search. I.e., “I’m interesed in X.” Serving ads about X in the List stream is a logical move.
Similarly, the Lists that you subscribe to tell a potential advertiser about your interests. If you subscribe to a lot of sports Lists, advertisers will use that information to target sports ads to you, wherever they can find you on the Web. Advertisers and the networks that serve them already combine information to paint a picture of you as a consumer. Lists are just another source they will use, if available.
You’ve probably seen a chart similar to this:
Topping the list of trusted sources for products/brands: people I know. Number 2: consumer opinions posted online.
Advertisers have been watching this trend for a while (heck, I’ve been watching it for a year, myself), and you bet they want to tap into it. Trusted Sources will provide a way. I believe we’ll see two significant changes:
- Advertisers/businesses will vie to become one of your Trusted Sources
- Instead of serving ads, advertisers will bid for your business, based on your queries of your Trust Network
Advertisers will want to become one of your Trusted Sources. There will be tremendous value for them. In the future, you begin your queries through Trusted Sources. Being one of those sources means the company gets a first shot at “selling” to you. They also become part of the extended Trust Network of your online associates, giving them access to those individuals, when they enter a Search query (see this post). Everytime a business appears in someone’s List, they become more discoverable and more likely to be added to other people’s Trust Networks.
For all of these reasons, businesses will compete to become one of your Trusted Sources. You might think that companies will have a hard time getting into people’s Trusted Sources Lists. I don’t think so. I think consumers will be willing to add companies as sources because:
- We know that consumers are already willing to follow brands in order to get deals, coupons, discounts, etc.
- Certain businesses are ripe for being a Trusted Source. For example, Consumer Reports, PC Magazine, and other reviewers are quite likely to be in people’s lists.
- Advertisers/businesses will change the way they do business and what they offer, to become more appealing. Tech companies that want to be in your list of Trusted Sources will provide free tools, good content, timely answer to questions, and otherwise prove themselves a valuable resource that doesn’t sell all the time, so that you’ll be willing to add them.
Let’s look at an example, from the not-too-distant future. You’ve created a Twitter List for PC Gaming Hardware. It includes some online and offline buddies you know that are really knowledgable about PC Gaming Hardware and some people who regularly trick out their machines. It also includes some prominent bloggers in the space. You’ve also added PC Gamer Magazine. Dell has added a Twitter channel for its Gaming community, and is regularly putting out advice about Dell Gaming hardware and related requirements. So, you add them. As you try to keep on top of the latest in gaming hardware, PC Gamer Mag and Dell are important and reliable sources of information for you.
I talked in my last post about how Search will change to let you leverage your Trust Network for better search results. That will yield a list of results that you feel more comfortable with and that you have a higher liklihood of clicking on.
Advertisers will piggy-back on this. Let’s say you’re in the market for a video card for your PC gaming machine. You’re trying to figure out how much memory to get and what brand. You use your Trust Network to ask for advice, perhaps through a search or special query system. Since you’ve got a great extended network, you get some great advice, with specific recommendations for three brands and a certain amount of memory.
When you use Search or a special query tool (even Twitter), the network serving ads takes the recommendations your friends have made into account. It serves you ads for those specific brands and those specific amounts of memory.
Normally, if you searched on “video game cards,” the ad network would choose the advertisers who bid the highest on those keywords, and serve their ads. In this case, the network knows that you are receiving recommendations for specific brands, and are likely to pick one of them–because the recommendations came from your Trust Network. So, the ad network only serves ads for those brands.
That changes things a bit. Now, advertisers are competing with each other to give you the best price (or value, anyway) for that specific brand of card. Instead of competing by bidding on keywords, advertisers are competing to give consumers the best offer for specific products of interest to the consumer.
That will force a change in the format of ads, as well. Normally, an advertiser creates a campaign and loads up “creatives” (ads) with specific text or graphics. The ads don’t change for the duration of the campaign. In some circumstances, the advertiser loads up multiple creatives and the creatives are dynamically switched based on the user seeing the ad. For example, an advertiser who sells sporting goods might load up an ad with a picture of someone riding a bike, someone in a kayak, and someone hiking. If you search for bicycles, you’ll see the bike graphic. If you search for kayaks, you’ll see the kayaking one.
In this case, ads will have to be much more dynamic, likely pulling straight from the businesses’ databases to create dynamic ads whose content reflects the latest discounts and deals, at a granular level for specific products. That will allow advertisers to offer you their best price at the time when you are most likey to buy, letting them bid effectively for your business.
As consumers, we generally don’t like advertising. But if you think about it this way, advertising might not be so bad. In the new world of Trusted Sources, advertisers are forced to provide value in order to earn a place in your circle. They have to offer you good information, support, or other value. They can’t abuse your trust by overselling. They work hard to earn and keep your trust.
They also serve ads. But those ads are more relevant, and they are specific offers from the business for exactly the products you want. The ads become bids for your business, with only the products your friends recommend allowed in the auction.
In this new world, advertising becomes more of a service and less of an annoyance. Advertising isn’t going away. Consumers aren’t going to stop spend money and buying products. The two experiences may soon be more aligned, with advertising and buying a better process through the user of Trusted Sources.
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