Search Guru Gord Hotchkiss reflects on my “nuisance cost” of advertising before diving into a recap of the infomediary model, originally posed by John Hagel. Gord suggests that Google is beginning to fulfill this model:
Hereâ€™s the basic foundation of the infomediary. Acting on behalf of the client when heâ€™s looking to make a purchase, the infomediary takes previously gathered personal information, as well as information volunteered by the client, and searches for the best match with vendors. The client can choose to remain anonymous, saving himself from an onslaught of advertising. Or, if the client agrees, the infomediary will pass his name along to a qualified vendor, and for this privilege, the vendor will pay the prospect. In essence, the infomediary plays the role of marketing matchmaker.
There are a number of offshoots of this basic premise. The infomediary supplies privacy tools to clients, marketing intelligence to vendors, the opportunity to bargain as a group for lower prices on regular consumable products, and it also acts as an aggregator of consumer power. In effect, the infomediary takes over control of the client relationship, inserting itself squarely between the consumer and the vendor, with the ultimate goal of protecting the consumer. This is a decidedly customer-centric model.
But itâ€™s in the basic concept of gathering information about a client, and using that to ensure a good match with a vendor, that one begins to speculate about Googleâ€™s ambitions to fill this role. In essence, at a rudimentary level, Google is already fulfilling some of the role of the infomediary. Certainly if you factor personalization into the equation, we move a big step closer to Singer and Hagelâ€™s concept.
*Gord’s observations are correct:
but I disagree Google is really getting close to fulfilling the infomediary model. Certainly At least it is superficially in many regards, and will be a powerful force in contributing to one. Here’s the But Gord and I have the same problem: While I admire and trust the many Google people I’ve met over the years, I don’t fully trust the big institution. In fact, there are very few big institutions I trust, though Google does rank pretty high. But you just can’t be a true infomediary without unequivocal trust.
Separately, I heard an updated version of Hagel’s thinking at the 2006 CMO Summit at Columbia University. He published his speaker notes here; they’re worth reading, along with the rest of his blog.
*Note/Update: I initially rushed through Gord’s good column, failing to digest the last and most important graph in his colum about the trust issue. I then countered Gord by pointing out that very issue. Fortunately, he called me on this so I’ve updated my post to reflect agreement — hence the slashed phrases. Thanks for setting me straight, Gord.