Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Search engines

Search engines play an important role in connecting consumers with information. If it's your first time on the Internet how do you find a search engine? It's a great question because I believe the answer to this question goes a long way to explaining how we select information and then make decisions.

From my experience we don't have much choice. The PC or device that has been purchased will have made the initial choices for you. Choices made by a series of business to business deals that were necessary for the delivery of the PC to the consumer, the business with the biggest influence having the final say. Inherently this is not bad, the world is a better place with PC's? So, we inherit the choices of others and to some degree we will have trusted some business that enabled us to purchase the PC visa vie the other choices in the market at that time.

The browser provided is opened and a search engine will either be presented or a link. Or the consumer will have the information from an offline source that will have educated them the need to use a search engine, assuming they don't just want to live in a one URL online or that they already know all the URL's they will ever need to use! (maybe someday)

Next, how do consumers choose a search engine given a free choice?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Practical Consumer Information

Ok, we have had a bit of theory but what are the information demands of consumers?

If we can believe Internet statistics then surfing for health information tops the polls followed by shopping and product searching. I'll come back to health in a later posting but for now lets focus on shopping info.

Shopping covers many industries/products, travel, music, groceries, etc, these example focused at the retail level. The (brand)manufacturers make the products or services e.g. food Mars, Hotels Hilton, music U2, etc. With the Internet evening up the access so that small, local or niche producers can be found, Food FoveranStore, local joiner (disclaimer, my parents business), niche music The Sundowns, etc.

With the whole supply chain of businesses on the web too. At the other end of the demand chain of information are what I class as information advisors, these cover an equally wide range of sources, e.g. news newspapers, consumer review Which?, Experts environment, fashion Glossy Mags , consumer themselves, blogs etc. All these competing sources online, also have competitors off line, family members, friends or professional advisors you trust.

Each online source aims to make life easy for consumers but consuming lots of 'easy to use' websites becomes complex. And how do we select or find the sources we trust or are willing to trust. The Search Engines come center stage, for the whole web Google, Yahoo!, product Froogle, products with research, Images, Blogs, music, video etc. I'll examine the role search engines play in the next posting.

To conclude, the consumers world of information is a complex universe which needs to be made simple and easy to consume. Future posting will highlight my views on who's doing what to deliver this goal to consumers.