The Coming Real-Time Search Earthquake

If you’ve ever done a search online for information about a breaking news story, you’ve come close to experiencing real-time search. We’re about to see the inclusion of content into search engines in near real-time, meaning that once content is authored, be it tweets in Twitter, status updates in Facebook, or pictures pushed to Twitpic, that content will virtually instantly be available in a search engine’s results.

Push-Pull Marketing

Push Marketing vs. Pull Marketing

Real-time, especially as it relates to news events, is best served in a push rather than a pull approach to information:

  • Push – information is “pushed” toward the prospective and often passive buyer
  • Pull – the consumer actively requests the product / information and “pulls” it through the delivery channel

In media and advertising there is a groundswell of movement switching to pull and away from push, and is often viewed as a shift in power to the consumer away from advertisers. The music industry is one of the first to see its platform co-opted as consumers are increasingly customizing music tools to better suit their individual needs.

The search industry is an excellent application of pull marketing. Yet, until now there was a lag between content’s publication and its inclusion in search results. With the advent of real-time search, there is a new approach to thinking about search – and how to supply (“push”) that real-time content out as soon as it arrives.

Applications like Twitterfall have already begun to address this for Twitter’s fire hose of data, and new players like Collecta are trying to find and display real-time content across the web on news sites, popular blogs, and social media.

An Advertising Shake-Up

Google and Bing have now announced their intentions to enter the fray, and have inked deals with Twitter and Facebook to access their real-time data. Imagine the possibilities for an advertiser to frame a specific message in paid search as the web explodes with content about a major event or a competitor’s problem. Similarly, it’s an excellent way for a company in crisis to launch some immediate damage control with its advertising mouthpiece, and ramp up its customer service apparatus as it begins to learn of its developing predicament.

These kinds of marketing opportunities will develop as real-time search matures. The earthquake is not here yet, but the seismographs that monitor the interactive advertising landscape certainly sense the rumblings already occurring in advance of its pending arrival.

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