In my morning reading, I found an article at the NY Times that got me thinking, How High Will Real Time Search Fly? It is an interesting article more for the questions it raises than any profound theories. First, the real time web is obviously a hot topic:
No one doubts that helping users find fresh, up-to-the-minute content on the Web is valuable. But plenty of other valuable Web services — including content sites, free Web e-mail and social networks — have struggled to find effective business models.
Granted, business models are hard to find in many cases especially if you take advertising out of the equation. Search advertising itself has been a major success, and Google has built its entire business on the basic concept. However, generic search is a much different animal than a real time search, and the NY Times (via Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land) think the same thing:
If real-time search is ever to achieve the same kind of magic, it needs a large volume of queries and the same ability to match users’ intent with ads. Mr. Sullivan said he expected real-time queries to be fewer and more specialized than generic searches.
The other problem is that people do not know much about real time search. Twitter may be a few years old, but in terms of the mass consumer, it only has a few months since really going mainstream. Even Google is have a problem with it as can be seen from this Marissa Mayer quote, “We don’t know enough about what kinds of queries people would issue against real-time data to know how monetizable it is.”
It is at this point that I hope you can tell that we are missing something in this real time search business. Getting an idea of what people are talking about in real time is definitely a big idea. However, search may not be the answer. Take a look at how you use Google. Most people will put a few keywords in and then look at the results for the most promising links. Maybe they go through two pages of search results, opening a few of the results to determine if they are really relevant. If they do not find what they are looking for, the probably refine their search with additional keywords or they change some of the keywords. This type of activity is not really applicable to real time search. For real time search, relevancy is important, but timeliness is the essential part. That is why the difference in what Microsoft and Google are doing with Twitter is so interesting.
Basically, real time search is just the foundation of what we are doing. Just like Twitter’s API, real time search will just be an enabler of some newer ideas that just use search as the API. The other side of this is that real time functionality has only limited applicability to the person sitting at a desk in front of a computer. There are the basic breaking news applications, which could be huge in their own right, as well as niche applications like social media monitoring.
A majority of the real time search boom will be in its convergence with another rapidly growing industry, mobile computing. There could be real time recommendations based on your current location using an application that aggregates information from real time searches as well as social sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon. Businesses can easily see the benefits of this as well with local advertisements and “limited time” discounts on your mobile phone.
Just think of the applications that could be possible when you mash together recommendations, discovery, social media and real time information. Not surprisingly, the business model for these new types of applications will probably still be advertising, but it is localized and specialized. Generic search may have known what you were looking for, but the new mobile applications will also know when and where you are looking for it.
8 thoughts on “Real Time Search Is Just A Foundation, There Will Be Something Bigger”
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daniel Arlt and Mahendra Palsule, Brendan McManus. Brendan McManus said: Real Time Search Is Just A Foundation, There Will Be Something Bigger http://bit.ly/D0WvN #news #socialmedia […]
Great post. You are right. Real Time Search is hot topic. To me RTS is just one facet of a bigger picture. Other elements include GPS (location specific data – either right now or where you will be); Devices where specific information (you mentioned mobile devices) is captured and rendered. I also include automobiles in this category – perhaps with the intelligence of OnStar (GPS data is published) and other more portable devices. There will be a lot of applications built to harness and process this real time data.
An interesting and challenging point I have been considering is: Who owns the “data” we are offering up about our whereabouts, our tendencies and other proclivities? In one sense it’s our data, but as most EULA’s note — the application and/or carrier of said data owns it. We’d like to think that people will use this data for good purposes and with good intentions. However, “our” data could also be used against us in too many ways to list here.
Real Time Search is here to stay — whether we acknowledge it or not. The fact is these technologies have been operating somewhat under the covers in our cars, our grocery store purchases, and our online presence for years. Now “our” data is coming back to us in a more accessible manner so we can see what we’ve been doing and perhaps set up some rules to help us do something with it.
PS – Perhaps this is a topic to explore in more depth on your talk radio show.
Who “owns” the data is something that is being argued a lot lately. I can’t possibly answer it in a blog comment either, it requires a post of its own.
Also, I do not have a talk radio show, so I am guessing you are thinking of someone else.
[…] People like blogger Rob Diana suggest that its real strength will only become apparent with the growth of the mobile computing. A majority of the real time search boom will be in its convergence with another rapidly growing industry, mobile computing. There could be real time recommendations based on your current location using an application that aggregates information from real time searches as well as social sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon. Businesses can easily see the benefits of this as well with local advertisements and “limited time” discounts on your mobile phone. […]
I completely agree that RT will help with new platforms, but I do not agree with some of your statements and research. People, including Google are already monetizing RT queries. Try searching the word weather on Google, or falcons during tonights Monday night football game.
These are just two RT queries that are being monetized today, news is a third. I am not suggesting that a new index type is not necessary, in fact i would argue RT indexes like the one we create at OneRiot will do a better job of coverage on real time type queries. Its all about understanding intent and that is derived by the signals used to determine relevance.
From a technology perspective RT is also tightly aligned with real world traffic patterns and designed to minimize a web server load. I just wrote a blog post on this topic, http://menro.me. The fetch style crawler used by RTS actually help a web site owner predict when traffic is about to materialize. Where traditional web crawlers are about taking resources today for the hope of traffic tomorrow.
Thanks for giving us the OneRiot point of view. I find it interesting that it sounds like you are disagreeing with me, but you even state “Its all about understanding intent and that is derived by the signals used to determine relevance.” When I was talking about real-time search, I was talking about what you and some of your competitors currently provide, essentially a search index of real time data. As you say though, there is intent and relevance, and you get into pattern detection as well. That definitely leads to something bigger than the limited view of real-time search we have now. I am curious to see where you can take it.
Hey this is truly informative, very glad to go through the post. Thank you very much.
Great post, great points…Very informative.
Thanks for the share!! Real time is such a hot topic and so important for many businesses!
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