free html hit counter Relevancy Vs. Targeting - John Battelle's Search Blog

Relevancy Vs. Targeting

By - September 25, 2006

An interesting rumination from Joe, who first wrote this on his blog

We all know that targeting is important, but the core of what Google provides is relevancy–namely, relevancy of search results and relevancy of advertisements.

There are infinite reasons why Google has been successful, but the most basic is that it has always focused first on relevancy.

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3 thoughts on “Relevancy Vs. Targeting

  1. Joe Hunkins says:

    Infinite reasons for Google’s success? Hmmm – I’d say and the article supports that there have only been two truly notable reasons: A superb PPC model of advertising combined with the most relevant=best search engine to date.

    Both the engine and the ad model were largely built by the time of huge expansion.

    Sure Google has the best technologists, leadership, and corporate culture, but it was the PPC model that was necessary for the success and that is largely ignored in most external analyses (Google knows this all too well).

    Good points that without relevancy you’ll lose the audience and the PPC revenues. *Together* these two factors lie at the heart of Google’s success and both are unstable territory, so all are in for more fun in the search sun.

  2. JG says:

    There are infinite reasons why Google has been successful, but the most basic is that it has always focused first on relevancy.

    That’s gotta be one of the silliest explanations I’ve heard. Now, you might fault the Alta Vistas and other search engines of yore for not keeping search the focus of their efforts. But for anyone actually working on search, relevance is always the first focus.

    Now, it is entirely plausible to argue that Google succeeded because it provided results that were more relevant than those provided by any other search engine at the time. But to claim that because other engines’ results were not as good, it means they were not focusing on relevance is patently absurd. From the Cranfield experiments in the early 1960s, search is essentially defined by relevance. You can’t have search without relevance. Everyone working on search is focusing first on relevance.

    I personally was always partial to SavvySearch, back in 1996-98. Maybe it was only because the web was smaller back then, but found it always gave results as good as, if not better than, the Google of today.

    But SavvySearch never really took off in the public consciousness. Why? Was it because they didn’t focus on relevance? Absurd. Of course they did. And they nailed it. But no one paid attention. So why did they fail, and Google succeed?

    Even Larry and Sergei have said that luck played a significant factor in their success. Yes, you need to have good results. You need to have positive cash flow. But you also need to catch a favorable wind.

  3. Jean Deau says:

    It feels to me that the “prevailing forces” of targeting are winning. The commercial drive and momentum of doing whatever it takes to force advertiser-preferred content pushed to the forefront is consistently clouds MY search results, I don’t know about you. The balancing act which GOOG is playing is a really really tough one. While they certainly stand out as more capable of winning this vs. the other engines, the challenge is constant and the more search dominates the more the ad-driven forces are economically equipped to employ the “smartest team on the other side of the table”.

    I think this ultimately supports the growth of specialized vertical sites that integrate greater human-based knowledge from which real intention and relevancy are driven.

    The engine bots are in a fierce battle with the desires and deviousness of advertiser interests. While there is legitimate claim that human based models are less scalable, there is a valid counter-argument that the models are sufficiently mature and lucrative now to support serious vertical engine investments; therefore human-assisted portals are on the march.