Social Media Search & Data Mining Primed To Out-Google Google
By Google's algorithms being regularly and strategically updated, they've been able to maintain a leadership role in online search for over a decade. However, looking forward to the next ten years, there are road signs ahead that indicate that "keyword search" may become as hackneyed a phrase as the "information superhighway."
In brand marketing, keywords can be optimized or bought to determine their ranking on Google, which presently dominates the search engine market with over 70 percent marketshare (dependent on what study you read). So, for instance if one chocolate company spends more time and money on search engine optimization they have a significant advantage over the chocolate company that has a meager budget, even if the latter produces the better chocolate product.
In essence, keyword search is analogous to the "push marketing" of the past that literally pushed out messages from the "one to the many." TV and billboard advertising are examples that are still used today, but less effectively as their were in the past. Why? Because when the Internet evolved from Web 1.0 to 2.0, the paradigm shift that occurred transferred the decision-making power from the brand to the people. Today, the "many" not the "one" are in control.
For Google to build a better mousetrap, they will have to incorporate a social graph component similar to what Facebook has introduced. Facebook's Open Graph, while still in its first iteration is a means to identify consumer preferences, not a brand's "keyword" selling points.
A social graph is able to determine preference. It is not mass personalization. It's a democratic process where data that accumulates on social networks, blogs and Web sites can determine what the consumer is thinking, desiring and eventually willing to purchase, and why?
And while Google's valuation continues to rise in tandem with the stock market, these financial gains may be short-lived in the foreseeable future. Because on the horizon, aside from Facebook, there are a number of social media analytics companies that are making their mark winning multi-million dollar contracts by data-mining millions of content postings across the Web.
Netbase Solutions is one. Ironically located in the same town as Google, it markets itself as a semantic technology company that develops and sells the next-generation of solutions that "reads and understands the English language." Based on developing insights for companies to answer complex questions faster and more accurately, Netbase is one of the many new innovators that are riding the Web 2.0 train into the future.
In a recent query posed by a consumer product company to over 100 firms, Netbase was able to determine "why men sport stubble?" Netbase's software which reads and analyzes 50,000 sentences a minute, helped it win the contract. Differing from a Google search, Netbase's search found 77,000 mentions of stubble online in less than six seconds that was then further analyzed.
Post-search, the company isolated all the positive comments, categorized them into themes and built a graph in less than an hour displaying the reasons according to percentages. The answer? The main reason men wear stubble is because they "perceive it to be sexy." While that might sound like the obvious - what Google search would come up with the same results, based on concrete online data?
Signs of Semantic Technology or Web 3.0 are emerging daily and should be a red flag to the search engine giant. "Peoplelinks" are replacing hyperlinks in relevancy and as trusted sources. While Google has attempted to strike deals with Facebook to acquire access to its Open Graph, the social network who wants to reign supreme in this space is not accepting its offers. In a related post, Facebook has even gone as far as to collaborate with Microsoft's Bing, which ranks a meager 3rd behind Yahoo in search engine marketshare (see "Social Media's Facebook/Bing "Social Search" Marriage").
It would take a lot to out-Google Google- but perhaps the Big G is not paying enough attention to those "Superhighway" roadsigns that indicates Web 2.0 requires a change in direction. Somehow I don't think they'll give up this road race without a good fight, but at this point it looks like they are riding in Web 3.0's rear-view mirror. Your thoughts readers?