Impressive though this is, how many times have you been frustrated at the first few links on a search page? It's easy to spend too much time plowing through a bunch of suggestions that turn out to be irrelevant (and possibly dangerous if you're repairing small home appliances — take my word for it). Searchers have no way of parsing the content itself. What Google has done is narrow the set of possible pages that could contain the answer. But the results contain lots of other stuff as well.
"Content platforms" are emerging that are designed to solve precisely this problem. A content platform is a standardized means of presenting information. Take, for instance, Yelp. If you want restaurant information, it gives you a list of possibilities with a ranking that can be sorted on distance or user reviews. But if you want to delve deeper, you know what you will find: the same layout for every restaurant, showing you were it is, some pictures, contact details, and a review. There's a lot of content but it has been arranged in a standardized, easy-to-use format. That makes it easy to understand what you are getting.
To be sure, both Google and Bing are moving toward standardized content formats for information on restaurants or movies or travel. But the real challenge is organizing the vast wealth of information that is not part of common searches — for instance, when you want to find a reliable small-appliance repairperson.
Twitter and Facebook represent alternative content platforms, each of which focuses on their users' scarce attention. They make it easy to scroll through hyperlocal news. In Twitter's case, the 140-character limit makes this particularly easy, freeing up consumers' time.
Monday, October 17, 2011
The Rise of Content Platforms - Joshua Gans on Harvard Business Review
Posted by siobhan at 6:01 AM