Friday, March 03, 2006

"My media"

"Where is the consumer? What do they want? Where do they want it? What messages will work for them?" Substitute the word "patron" for "consumer," and you might think this was a librarian talking. But, in fact, these words come from Yahoo!'s COO Daniel Rosensweig at the 2006 American Association of Advertising Agencies Media Conference and Tradeshow in Orlando, Florida. In his talk (accessible here), Rosensweig addresses many of the same topics that we librarians are contending with including user-generated content, self-publishing, consumer rating of information, information overload and the rise of communities that filter this information for their members, and the personalization of technology, among others. Speaking from a marketing perspective, Rosensweig addresses how to reach people as the advertising industry is experiencing a shift from "mass media" to what he calls "my media." In a nutshell, he sees the interaction between marketers and consumers on the Internet as a great opportunity to reach people and to gather information about what they want, using the Internet as an enormous database.

This talk is pertinent for us for a number of reasons. First, I contend that librarians concerned with marketing should pay close attention to what marketers in a business setting are up to. While we don't share the exact same concerns, talks like Rosensweig's are good reminders that we are all generally seeking to do essentially the same thing, which is to get people to use our stuff. Advertising is undergoing a major shift right now due to precisely the same changes in technology and information that we deal with (see this NYT reporter's write up of the Four A's conference for a summary of the major trends). They, like us, are trying to figure out how to communicate with people given that people are much more connected with each other than ever and there is a lot of information clutter out there. We can learn a lot from how marketers are responding to these changes, while still upholding the integrity of our own profession and recognizing our differences. Second, it was very interesting for me to hear a leader of one of our competitors talk about how Yahoo! wants to help consumers find what they need to know before they even have to ask, and also help people to find, create and enhance content. The marketing directions companies like Yahoo! take will influence the expectations patrons will have for us, and so whether or not we go down similar paths, we ought to be aware of what's going on in the larger information world.

I'd recommend taking a listen to Rosensweig's talk (it's not very long) for an interesting perspective on information and advertising. Talks from other advertisers are posted, though I haven't listened to them yet. Enjoy!

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