Google's Eric Schmidt, Serendipity And The Future Of Social Media

Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and it's "autonomous search." That's a fancy term that means "discovery." But no matter what words you use, it still means the same thing:  more empowered consumers and greater value in earned media. 

Some people are creeped out by portions of what Schmidt said, but he has suggested an exciting future for empowering people to create greater influence and be armed with timely, relevant, and useful information.  At TechCrunch Disrupt, Schmidt envisioned a future where people and technology come together to create "a serendipity engine . . . a new way of thinking about traditional text search where you don't even have to type."

As you look into the future, the distinction between “search” and “discovery” gets muddy.  While it sounds like science fiction to suggest that technology can help search for things you don’t even yet know you want, the opportunities to improve human discovery are very real.  Combining a person’s context—where they are, who they’re with—with their past opinions and actions and the opinions and actions of others can create tremendous value and relevance.

Imagine you’re someone who has positively rated Mexican restaurants in the past.  As you drive through town around lunchtime, your device alerts you to a well-rated Mexican restaurant that is nearby and likely to suit your tastes.  This information may not be welcome at 8 a.m. or 2 p.m., nor would it be welcome to someone who hasn’t expressed an affinity for Mexican food.  It is the combination of social media, individual preferences and context that creates the opportunity for proactive discovery rather than reactive search. 

This isn’t about opening your Yelp application on your smartphone and seeing the same search results as everyone else; it’s about having hardware and software that intuits and presents the things you really care about.  There are already examples of simple "Serendipity Engines" available, such as Netflix's rating system—the more movies you rate, the better the recommendations you'll receive.

What is exciting about this future is the continued progress toward empowering consumers.  When this sort of functionality arrives, this will again change the way marketers plan for and use paid and earned media. The future of discovery is not about finding which nearby restaurant has a discount for checking in or becoming mayor but about finding which nearby restaurants are rated the best on the factors you most care about and by the people who are most like you. 

Great experiences create great advocacy, and in Eric Schmidt's world, that means greater visibility in "autonomous search." While Schmidt's "serendipity engine" will create opportunities for new forms of advertising, what really will matter is true, authentic advocacy. 

Comments

nice post

Hi Augie. I really like the way you think about this space. One line, in particular, jumped off the screen for me....
"It is the combination of social media, individual preferences and context that creates the opportunity for proactive discovery rather than reactive search"

This is exactly what we have been building at Futureful. We actually define ourselves as...
"Personal Filter + Social Filter + Contextual Filter = Predictive Discovery"

Wish I could say more but we are still in stealth mode :) Keep up the good work!

Predictive Discovery

I'll be very interested to learn more about Futureful--when the time is right.

Thanks

I'll keep in touch.

I agree that all this will

I agree that all this will help in advocacy. While all this hopefully goes towards giving a better customized user experience for all of us, there are too many examples out there which makes the whole social media as one-step-forward & two-steps-back kind of a scenario. Every company seems to use twitter, linkedin and facebook data for their own needs these days (Digsby, Rotten Tomatoes). The lines between "virtual" social media and "real-world" social media is also diminishing. Retailers for example are planning to track shoppers in stores, send promotions based on their comments in the digital world and what not.

Regards,
Anand