March 12th, 2006

2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want

by

Ever since I began my “2.0” indoctrination, I’ve had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right — I knew it had to do with the problem of too much choice and with the unclear returns on the effort of 2.0 participation. But despite much writing and reading, the hammer hasn’t found the nail.

Then, today, an unexpected mix of Doc Searls and Umair Haque led to a moment of semi-clarity:

Media 2.0 will fail without Marketing 2.0, and the evolution of Marketing 2.0 is being impeded by a fundamental principle of human nature — given infinite choice, most of us DON’T KNOW exactly what we want.

Everyone between the ages of 30 and 65 grew up in a mass-media, mass-marketing, mega-brand culture. There was a limited number of choices in media, products, and services.

Now, in a globalized, all-digital 2.0 world, the choices have become effectively infinite.

As a result, media and marketing attention has been scattered to the four winds, which has lead to the postulation of a new “Attention Economy.”

But no, Doc Searls argues — “intention,” not “attention,” is the right currency for the 2.0 economy:

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 about markets, not marketing. You don’t need marketing to make Intention Markets.

Umair Haque points out the problem with this:

The best, IMHO, probably Doc’s notion of the “intention economy”; but even this has a fatal flaw: it squares the marketing circle nearly bringing us back to the much-loved/much-loathed “persuasion”, and it’s logical consequences are nasty things like focus groups and intrusion wars.

Attention is not intention; nor should it be, because intention leaves a huge gap open for heavy-handed, ham-fisted, marketing 1.0 style “persuasion” (that’s when marketers begin thinking they should try to change your intention…)

It took me a while to grok Umair’s critique, but then the light bulb flashed on — an intention economy only works if most people know precisely what their intentions ARE. And because most people DON’T generally know what they want with any degree of precision, an intention economy is prone to marketing 1.0 inefficiencies.

I keep coming back to The Paradox of Choice (from the Publisher’s Weekly review):

The conclusions Schwartz draws will be familiar to anyone who has flipped through 900 eerily similar channels of cable television only to find that nothing good is on. Whether choosing a health-care plan, choosing a college class or even buying a pair of jeans, Schwartz, drawing extensively on his own work in the social sciences, shows that a bewildering array of choices floods our exhausted brains, ultimately restricting instead of freeing us.

To put it simply: 1.0 constrained us with too few choices and too little control, but 2.0 is overwhelming us with too many choices and too much control.

In the same “intention economy” piece, Doc Searls had a blazing insight about the economics of Google’s search advertising:

Google has radically altered the whole advertising business. It’s results are far more relevant and personal than anything the old mass media ever came up with. And its system opens participation to countless businesses and categories, of all sizes. But it’s still about advertising. And advertising is woefully inefficient. Most of it is wasted. Even by Google.

Recently a friend placed some advertising on Google, and shared some of the report with me. While he only paid for a handful of click-throughs, these were bought at the expense of something like a hundred thousand “exposures”. While the costs of wasted exposures may be tolerably low to both the sell and the buy side, they are still real. They subtract value.

This is why I couldn’t bring myself to agree with all the smart people who argued that search marketing is hyper-efficient after I suggested that it isn’t.

Doc is right that Google search advertising is inherently inefficient — but NOT just because advertising is inherently efficient. Advertising that is target based on “intention” is inefficient because human “intention” is inherently inefficient.

Let’s say that I’m thinking about purchasing a new car (which I have thought about) — here’s what goes through my mind:

My old car still works. Do I REALLY need a new car? How much can I afford to spend? I’d like a luxury car, but can I justify that? We could use the room of an SUV, but it’s so environmentally unfriendly. A hybrid would be great, but I’ve heard that they aren’t as fuel efficient as they claim to be. Maybe I should just keep my old car. I read that there’s this great new tax credit for hybrids, but it’s supposed to phase out. Does that mean I should hurry up and get my hybrid? But should it be an SUV hybrid, or is that just silly?

Human “intention” is sloppy and inherently imprecise, even in Doc’s intention economy use case:

In The Intention Economy, a car rental customer should be able to say to the car rental market, “I’ll be skiing in Park City from March 20-25. I want to rent a 4-wheel drive SUV. I belong to Avis Wizard, Budget FastBreak and Hertz 1 Club. I don’t want to pay up front for gas or get any insurance. What can any of you companies do for me?” — and have the sellers compete for the buyer’s business.

That’s a lot of precision, but how negotiable are these criteria and how should they be weighted? What if Hertz has a great deal on a sedan — is the SUV requirement fungible? What if the best deal is from a company other than Avis, Budget, and Hertz? OR — what if Avis, Budget, and Hertz have deals that are indistinguishable based on these criteria? Does it come down to the same “evil” (to use Umair’s term) marketing 1.0 “persuasion” effort?

The end result of most purchase decisions is like pornography — you know it when you see it, but it’s difficult to pre-define it. The whole notion of building an efficient market around intention assumes that our decision processes have a machine-like precision — leave it to the 2.0 geeks to make that mistake.

I might go online today and come across some bit of marketing that finally puts me over the edge to buy that new car. Having decided to put off the purchase, I’m not officially in the market, so I’m not searching for a “hybrid” and I’m not going to fill out any “lead generation” forms, but I’m actually closer to the purchase decision than any marketer can easily glean from my online behavior.

This is why I come back to the same basic principle — life is complicated, and we need help figuring things out.

But getting help in 2.0 is not about prostrating to the power of media and marketing 1.0 — it’s about having the right tools, marketplace, and infrastructure to enable me to first FIGURE OUT what I want, and then to efficiently find it.

Maybe what I really want is a BMW 3, but I just haven’t “connected the dots.”

Remember, marketing has always been about creating images that appeal to us, that we aspire to. I don’t want to be beat over the head with ill-conceived, ham handed, irrelevant images — but I look to marketers AND my peers to discover, in this sea of infinite choice, the thing that fills the need I’ve yet to fully define.

(Besides — do you really think marketers are going to be relegated to selling us what we’ve already decided we want? Here, have a bottle of carbonated sugar water — and smile. There will ALWAYS be persuasion — sorry, Umair.)

This is the same problem I have with Web 2.0 as Media 2.0, and why I want an “idea filter” — maybe what I want is a product/service idea filter? I get a rudimentary version on Amazon, but I don’t just want product reviews, I want images, lifestyles, visions of myself as I am and as I might be — all the things that marketers specialize in, but I want the 2.0, peer-enhanced version — Umair’s “connected consumption.”

OK, so where is it?

It’s so 2.0 that I’m still struggle to articulate what I want out of 2.0 — can’t someone just whip something up in AJAX to help me out here?!

The most intriguing visions of a 2.0 market/economy that I’ve seen are Seth Goldstein’s /ROOT Markets and, of course Umair’s Media Economics.

As you can see from this post, I’m still groping in the dark for the nail. I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t have the answer — iteration is my only recourse. If the blogosphere serves me well again (i.e. the think-o-sphere), some great minds will appear below and help me take it a step further.

When will the 2.0 revolution be ready for prime time? When it can help me figure out what I don’t already know.

Comments (22 Responses so far)

  1. Their coverage would have you believe that this is the next step of media and advertising evolution. But what’s going on is really much more than that. Scott Karp captures the situation in his post on the proliferation of media and the problem oftoo much choice. “Everyone between the ages of 30 and 65 grew up in a mass-media, mass-marketing, mega-brand culture. There was a limited number of choices in media, products, and services.” The first stage of the Internet as marketing and commerce engine was

  2. とやらで選択の幅が無限に広がると、逆に消費者は自分の欲しいものを選べなくなってしまう。その行きつくところが Attention Economy なのだと。そして彼はこう主張する。自分が本当に欲しいものは何かを見つける手助けとして Web 2.0 が機能しなければならない。そうすれば、Doc Searls の言うような Intention Economy が一般市場でも機能するようになる。 Media 1.0 は、広告宣伝によって「これを欲しがりなさい」と人々の頭に Intention

  3. I’m on client deadline this week, so I’ve been pretty quiet, but I had to stop and write about a post I just read over on Publishing 2.0. Scott’s post,2.0 Needs to Help Me Figure Out What I Want, really resonated with me and made me think about Intention and how helping to focus it leads to Attention. Scott makes some great points that are worth considering. “…an intention economy only works if most people know precisely what their

  4. Barnraiser2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want Change Me New standards for website access Searching for the net’s big thing

  5. I’m on client deadline this week, so I’ve been pretty quiet, but I had to stop and write about a post I just read over on Publishing 2.0. Scott’s post,2.0 Needs to Help Me Figure Out What I Want, really resonated with me and made me think about Intention and how helping to focus it leads to Attention. Scott makes some great points that are worth considering. “…an intention economy only works if most people know precisely what their

  6. Linux Journal だが、Open Source の世界は Intention Economy で動いている、というのが彼の主張らしい。ということで話としては近い。 掘り下げは、Publishing 2.0の「2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want」をお借りしつつ。 the evolution of Marketing 2.0 is being impeded by a fundamental principle of human nature ― given infinite choice, most of us DON’T KNOW exactly what we

  7. Barnraiser2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want Change Me New standards for website access Searching for the net’s big thing

  8. , and it’s a huge leap in the evolution of Web 2.0 (a buzzword that I’ll explain more about later). But here’s what I’m interested in: the vision economy, or Vision 2.0. I’m all for helping me tofigure out which BMW I want, but how about creating a new vision for my life and the planet? That’s what we’re up to with The Power to Stand: A Course in Greatness, only minus the Web 2.0 part–for now. To say the least, this is an exciting time to be alive!

  9. this

  10. המחשבות האלו של סימנס נובעות ממאמר של סקוט קראפ בלוג שלו,Publishing 2.0: קארפ מציין ש-Web 2.0 צריך לעזור לו לפענח לעצמו מה הוא רוצה. הוא מתייחס לגודש אפשרויות הבחירה שעומדות לרשותנו היום:

  11. In 2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want Scott Karp writes: ….This is why I come back to the same basic principle — life is complicated, and we need help figuring things out. But getting help in 2.0 is not about prostrating to the power of media and marketing 1.0 — it’s about having

  12. Another wrinkle that enters in is the search vs. browse dillema. This is especially important in the area of fiction works. When most people are looking for something to read, they often don’t have even a rudimentary set of qualifications for what they’d like to read.

    Yet fiction is still organized alphabetically by author. If it was organized more like non-fiction by subject matter, at least that would be a start.

  13. I think you need an ant trail. That is something that shows you what other people like you chose.

    You can assume that other people are going to make the best decisions they can. If those other people have a similar background to you and are interested in similar things then they will probably make a similar decision to the one you would make if you went through the whole research process.

    So instead of going through a laborious research process you can just find other people like you who bought a car and buy the car they bought. Or at least make your decision from the most popular cars with that group.

    Maybe this is a review site that matches user profiles?

    Of course advertising and branding has always tried to persuade us that we should buy product X because people like us (only better) bought it.

  14. Marketing is not evil…

    I am surprised that Scott Karp would agree with Umair Haque and Doc Searle’s in his (overlong) post on the intention economy on so-called Web 2.0 marketing. Scott is usually able to see that Whatever 2.0 is actually Whatever 1.0….

  15. You’re connecting with some of the most powerful concepts in advertising. Marketing–in general–is just a probability problem: Given the environment, what are the chances of my product being chosen. The problem is to a) understand the environment; b) be capable of reacting to the situation; and c) shifting the environment to a place where you’re chances are better than the other guys’.

    Web 2.0 solution? Maybe. A few of the candidates for a) enhanced web analytics packages, such as today’s WebTrends announcement. Candidates for b) behavioral targeting. Check out Revenue Science. Candidates for c) clever creatives.

    I think you’re looking for some structure to the world. This is essentially it. To put it another way, you can always look at advertising as a balance between differentiation and relevance. Every new technology, tool, or tactic should drive one of those factors. Search, for example, does a great job with relevance, but nothing for differentiation. That’s the compounding problem with Google, btw. 2 million results, many of which are simply redundant.

  16. grumpysecretary

    All of this discussion reminds me of the “rehabilitation” scene toward the end of The Shawshank Redemption. Web 2.0 & Media 2.0 are “made-up words” so young fellas like you all can go to cool Web 2.0 parties and write blogs. *smile*

    In the end, those companies that are successful with a product or service must do two things, at least in the US. First, they must skillfully tap into our hope. Then they must carefully not challenge our denial. The entire US economy runs on the hope/denial equation. More denial right now. Apple & eBay does this brilliantly. So do many others.
    Actually I see Web 2.0 as a process platform.A platform to sell ideas and innovation to folks who already know how to run a business. Media 2.0 is the same. The process platform of developing and selling “new content brands” to people who already know how to run a business.

    What’s a “process platform?”

    I define it as a impermanent business cycle aberration that enables corporations to bypass the normal corporate behaviors of fear and resistance to innovation.

    That’s my pile of hooeey for the day *smile*

  17. [...] Scott Karp knows why I’ve been confused lately. Very well thought out. Now I just wish I could create a product that would solve his, my, your and soon to be everyone else’s problem. Mar 13 2006 09:03 pm | web2.0 and whathehellisallthisabout and Attention and scottkarp | [...]

  18. [...] In 2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want Scott Karp writes: ….This is why I come back to the same basic principle — life is complicated, and we need help figuring things out. [...]

  19. ….This is why I come back to the same basic principle — life is complicated, and we need help figuring things out.

    But getting help in 2.0 is not about prostrating to the power of media and marketing 1.0 — it’s about having the right tools, marketplace, and infrastructure to enable me to first FIGURE OUT what I want, and then to efficiently find it.

    Maybe what I really want is a BMW 3, but I just haven’t “connected the dots.”…

    Thanks to all the technological innovations in content creation and publication, there are no real content consumers left in the traditional sense. We have all become publishers. The net has evolved to become a big 2-way medium for human communication.

    By focusing on human defined intentions, Otavo gives its users just enough structure to form a meaningful dialog. We call each dialog a quest, and as each quest proceeds, users ‘connect the dots’ with the help of others in a natural fashion as in a communication medium.

    I think the problem Scott and others keep running into is continuing to see the web 2.0 as a publishing medium when it really has transformed into a communication platform.

    Otavo – The Intention Engine

  20. [...] Making the Way for Intention   [Note: I also wrote this post in some hope that it might be good food for discussion at PC Forum, where "user in charge" is the theme.]  This post is a response both to Umair Hague’s post here and Scott Karp’s 2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want, both of which respond to my Intention Economy essay. Both add many new thoughts of their own — too many for me to list, or remark upon, in the little time I have at the moment. So I’ll isolate one idea Umair launches and Scott drives forward. First, Umair:  The best, IMHO, probably Doc¹s notion of the “intention economy”; but even this has a fatal flaw: it squares the marketing circle nearly bringing us back to the much-loved/much-loathed “persuasion”, and it¹s logical consequences are nasty things like focus groups and intrusion wars.  Attention is not intention; nor should it be, because intention leaves a huge gap open for heavy-handed, ham-fisted, marketing 1.0 style “persuasion” (that¹s when marketers begin thinking they should try to change your intention…)  Next, Scott:  It took me a while to grok Umair’s critique, but then the light bulb flashed on — an intention economy only works if most people know precisely what their intentions ARE. And because most people DON¹T generally know what they want with any degree of precision, an intention economy is prone to marketing 1.0 inefficiencies.  I believe I failed to make my own definition of intention clear enough when I wrote this passage that both men quoted:  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 don¹t need advertising to make them.  The Intention Economy is about markets, not marketing. You don¹t need marketing to make Intention Markets.  My point there was about what happens after minds are made up.  Scott writes,  Doc is right that Google search advertising is inherently inefficient — but NOT just because advertising is inherently efficient. Advertising that is target based on “intention” is inefficient because human “intention” is inherently inefficient  There is nothing “inefficient” about intention itself. Having money and being ready to spend it is a market condition: a state of pure and ready potentiality on the buy side. The points I made in that essay about the “intention market” are about what supply does to satisfy ready demand, on an individual basis. Not about what anybody does to help make up a buyer’s mind.  Right now we don’t have much of an intention market. Marketing is too busy trying to capture and control the customers it insults with misleading synonyms, just like it was when Cluetrain said this in 1999:  we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. we are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp.deal with it.  Today sales is still busy hustling new business rather than satisfying business standing right there — business that should be much more manifest in a fully networked marketplace.  An intention economy is one that brings to buyers the goods they want, when and how they want them, when they are ready to buy, thanks to networked market efficiencies.  I’m not sure we’ll ever have it, frankly.  But I am sure marketing won’t get us there, because it’s not who buyers address with their demands. They’re addressing sales.  Here’s why: Sales is real. Marketing is bullshit. (Follow that link to find out why.)  To get real, marketing has to get out of the bullshit business. And it can’t do that while it isn’t touching customers. To touch customers, marketing has to solve a political problem with sales, which is the main corporate organ tasked with touching customers directly. As I said in that last link, threre’s a good reason why VPs of Sales & Marketing tend to come from Sales.  I have no idea how to help marketing with that political problem. I do have some ideas about how to make the intention economy happen, however. They all involve independent identity. And they don’t involve marketing.  As for what comes before customers (not “consumers”, which are degraded forms of customers that exist only in the heads of marketers and customers borrowing the vocabulary of marketers) are ready to buy — when they’re making up their minds — Umair and Scott make a lot of good points.  I just wanted to make clear that actual intention, where customers know what they want, is still not satisfied in a very efficient way, even in a Web 2.0 world, whatever that is.  A final thought, leveraging Ted Turner’s famous “lead, follow or get out of the way” imperative: In an intention economy, buyers lead, sellers follow and marketing gets out of the way.   Mopix   Shot in Austin: Craig Newmark, Jimmy Wales, Jerry Michalski.   Who’s on Frist   From Dr. Weinberger comes pointage regarding Sen. Bill Frist’s sourcing of Cluetrain in the senator’s blog. Not in time for yesterday’s panel, but never too late to blab about.   ExtraBucks     During the Cluetrain panel yesterday morning, Henry Copeland used the term ‘exegesis’. I heard it as “ExtraJesus” and asked the crowd if the domain name was taken.  Later Tara responded: it wasn’t. So I just tried to buy it*, sitting here in the Starbucks at Oltorf and 35 here in Austin. (Miles from the Convention Center, by the way.)  Then, between the last paragraph and this one, Macon Stokes walked up with his young son, introduced himself, told me he enjoyed the panel, and welcomed me to his personal Starbucks.  I wanted to take a picture of Macon and his boy, but the camera croaked. Got a “lens error”. Considering what it’s been through, that’s no surprise. (The sunset picture above was one of the last it took.)  Still, except for that one glitch, I regard the whole thing as proof The Matrix is still working.  As for the domain name, maybe AKMA has some ideas.  * I gave up, after failing to get either GoDaddy or Register.com to work. Life’s too short, etc.  Bonus link: Scott Coon covers the Cluetrain session. He has a good question I’ll answer later. Right now I have to get back to SXSW.   Proof that the handbasket to hell is a fun ride   1) Egosurf  2) Isolatr [...]

  21. First of all I’m really uncomfortable with this melding of attention and intention. The (surprisingly well-covered) notion of Intention that’s been doing the rounds these last few days is a) not at all fresh or revelatory (interestingly close to an old “wow! e-commerce!” view – surely a handy, certainly challenging to build, front end for good old demand aggregation) and b) a major distraction in the attention debate.

    As for joining the dots – imho there will always be a causal gap in the “media>advertising>purchase-or-not” sequence. It’s called The Way We Behave.

    I believe that a solution to our current uncertainty will require a) a much deeper incision into the changing nature of attention as a phenomenon, b) evolved forward to articulation of the corresponding new forms of media value (or lack thereof – a distinct possibility), c) mashed across to the inevitable POS data to connect the circle.

    I say connect the circle, but – and long may this continue – if I don’t even know what I want to buy, and if the factors that influence me one way or the other are impossible to bottom out (in order to ditch that pesky other 50% of the advertising budget, for example …) then I feel … very human!

  22. [...] The thing is, much of the most interesting information is not the stuff that exists on the surface. Attention is at the center of much of the media 2.0 debate at the moment. What is it and why does it matter? Some argue it’s intention that’s important, but I disagree. Scott Karp sums up my problem nicely: “Media 2.0 will fail without Marketing 2.0, and the evolution of Marketing 2.0 is being impeded by a fundamental principle of human nature — given infinite choice, most of us DON’T KNOW exactly what we want,” he explains. Intention’s the wrong direction, but I wonder if attention’s still not enough either? After all, just the word leaves us feeling as though it’s stuff we’re already aware of, at least in one way or another. Wouldn’t the most interesting learning come from collecting all the metadata we can get our hands, both that which we consciously interact with and that which we don’t? [...]

  23. [...] Doc Searls added a new wrinkle in the attention economy discussion by looking for intention. See Umair Haque, Scott Karp and Richard Giles for more reaction to ETech06 and the economy of attention/intention. The thing everyone appears to agree upon is that this centres on the buyer with an intended need/want/desire, not a seller with a need to sell. For further seminal thinking on the attention economy and the end of scarcity that goes all the way back to 1997, see Michael H. Goldhaber, “The Attention Economy and the Net”. [...]

  24. [...] The whole notion of building an efficient market around intention assumes that our decision processes have a machine-like precision – leave it to the 2.0 geeks to make that mistake. [link] [...]

  25. [...] My current focus is on how we can achieve intended aims through decentralized and distributed processes. I think this is a significant question that we need to answer as we move away from the controlled centre that exists in education (and most of society’s structures). We still need to achieve desired outcomes…but we can’t achieve them in the same linear, structured approach that has been utilized in the past. Here are some thoughts of the challenge – 2.0 Needs to Help Me FIGURE OUT What I Want: “…given infinite choice, most of us DON’T KNOW exactly what we want…To put it simply: 1.0 constrained us with too few choices and too little control, but 2.0 is overwhelming us with too many choices and too much control.” Posted by gsiemens at May 15, 2006 08:30 PM | TrackBack Comments Post a comment [...]

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