The completion of my Spring semester has finally arrived'so, naturally, I'm in the market for a vacation getaway.
The amount of information that exists online for a prospective traveler is enormous'and, quite frankly, overwhelming. Just Googling 'best vacation spots Mexico'? leaves my head spinning. My results page is filled with user-driven sites which claim to consolidate fellow travelers' tips, warnings, and praises.
This is helpful because consumers trust their neighbors, their peers, their family and friends, right? Not quite. Laid out before me are hundreds of thousands of conflicting opinions which are (supposedly) authentic, free from marketers' sales pitch.
With almost no criteria in mind (other than that my vacation fit within my student-sized budget), I don't know where to begin. I scroll down my results page to a popular travel website and search Cozumel. To my horror, up pops 50,340 user reviews, retelling experiences that range from paradisiacal to crummy. How can such a huge amount and range of consumer opinions be organized and effectively presented?
So far in my search, I have had a few interactions which have actually aided, rather than terrified. For example, in true AMP style, Tripadvisor.com features a Travel Inspiration configurator which prompts the user to enter two criterion and spits out a list of relevant destinations.
After considering that a two-question configurator could be helpful, I wondered why, with all the information Google knows about me, couldn't my search results be more accurate? After all, between my search history and all the Google or Google-owned services I utilize daily, doesn't my search engine know my gender, employment status, income bracket, marital status, previous vacation destinations, interests'?¦ and so much more?
There's a clear trend towards relevant and personalized advertising, but, I also want relevant and personalized search results that lead me, as a consumer, to relevant content'and ultimately, a successful purchase.
The technology I'm looking for sounds a lot like Semantic Web: an Internet which is able to push information towards me without my having to ask for it. We're moving towards Web 3.0 and, as we do, marketers must be there to provide simple ways for users to mine this huge amount of content themselves. Fellow users' opinions are not always, like in the case of my vacation planning, favorable and manageable. Harnessing the collective voice of a global team of content creators is the challenge.
Do you have an active Google account? Go to: google.com/dashboard if you're curious about what Google knows about you!