Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'll Just Google It ... Yahoo!

Yes indeed, the vagaries of fame and function along the information superhighway (or so its inventor was wont to call it) seem to ebb and flow with frightening irregularity. It was only a few years ago that the Yahoo! cowboy! was suing for more residuals! because he could yodel!, yep, yodel real good! Now, it's increasingly infrequently that the compulsory ! is included with the word Yahoo, and Google has become a verb. I think it would make R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller proud, but I think it makes the rest of us uneasy.

Google, the company which pledges to "do no evil" is busy planning to store, index, and cross-multiply your (and my!) personal data - all in the cause of making the all world's information available to all the world all the time (except portions of that information deemed too "true" or "dangerous" in certain countries, of course).

Still, Google does have a huge advantage over Yahoo! in my book - they are all about the business of context, while Yahoo! is all about the business of lists. A shopping list is all well and good, assuming I'm headed to the market, but if I want the answer to a question, I'd prefer information related to my query.

Ah, context, and its close relative: environment. It seems we always come back, in these screeds, to that conceit of ours: your message is always better delivered in an environment where the consumer either expects it or requests it. It's all well and good trying to force cod-liver oil down my throat, but I'm likely to choke if you do it in my sleep. (No, really, Pat, it's not a good idea!) If, however, I realize that I need a good dose, I'm more than happy to swallow - just please, when I'm expecting - even better, when I'm craving it!

So, how do Google, Yahoo!, cod-liver oil, and shopping lists come together? It's quite simple, really. If you want to deliver a message to a consumer about the benefits of purchasing your product, why not deliver that message when said consumer is already in buying mode?! That's right, full-motion capable beverage vending machines are the Google to a television program's Yahoo! Oh, it's plenty of fun to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, but when the dramatic tension between, say, Will and Grace, or Patrick and Sponge Bob is quashed with a commercial for medication or cereal, there is no positive rub-off. When, however, a blast-chilled, sanitized-for-your-protection tasty beverage is dispensed with an invitation to drive away in a new Previa (or is it an Odyssey!), the purchaser is bound to stand up and take notice.

So, I say it's time to Google your customers' thirst, so you won't have to hear your competition yelling Yahoo! as they convert your customers to their products. It's truly that simple.


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