If Siri has her way with us, all of your search spending will become a pointless expense.
Why? Search engines, as a technology for the future, are dead. What people want are answer engines. Until recently, such a thing was a pipe dream, as all search engines suffer from an "answer" problem. (I should know -- I ran marketing at Ask.com.)
You see, when you search for something with keywords and don't find it, you don't blame the search engine. You just type in a different combination of keywords. However, when you ask a question on a search engine and don't receive the answer, you don't blame your question. Rather, you blame the technology for not being able to provide the answer.
It's all about context -- and context (location and tasks) is at the heart of the mobile experience. The vast majority of what we would have been "searching" for on our desktop is now already available, contained, categorized, and neatly arranged in little subsets of the data available in apps -- all without any of the non-relevant information that comes along for the ride in search engines. In essence, we "choose" our vertical search category by merely choosing an app: Google Maps (for directions); OK Cupid (for dating searches); NYTimes, CNN, Engadget (for news); Amazon, eBay, Overstock (for shopping); Fandango, Flixster (for movies).
But why is this important? Well, everything you need to know about the fundamental shift that is about to occur is in the graph "2011 U.S. Ad Spending vs. Consumer Time Spent by Media."
Mobile devices are replacing the time we spend on our desktops and with every other media from print to TV. And yet there is a huge chasm when it comes to ad spending. Unfortunately for those of us in the digital space, search is how many companies have learned to justify digital spending. Analytics wonks and CFOs have fallen in love with search's clean funnel. But Apple and Siri are about to change all that. Here's why.
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