Kelsey: Peter Horan on intention-driven media

Notes from keynote by Peter Horan, president, IAC Media and Advertising, Inc.

In the late 1990s, there was a lot of funding of locally focused sites, such as City Search and Sidewalk. There were projections for big revenue, but “to date, we haven’t gotten as much traction in local as we thought.â€?

To date, the local model has been to be brand-driven media. What’s happened over the past five years, especially with search, is the notion of intention-driven media.  Today, people go to search, get a list of links and I’m on a mission. “I’m not in a casual surfing mode. I’m not browsing. I’m on missle lock trying to get something done. When I’m in that mode, I’m impatient and I want to be in control.

“We live and die in a five second window. A customer is sitting there waiting for the page to load with a finger on the back button.”

Successful web sites create value by organizing content and services. They give users a smooth click stream from the question to the answer.  Brand aids in the process, but it doesn’t drive the process.

Web usage isn’t about reading. It’s about doing. The litmus test for local is usefulness.

Consumers want useful, interesting, actionable and accessible.  Merchants want easy, predictable, affordable and comfortable.

A bad assumption that has driven local site business models is that people will change their behavior, that a merchant who has been buying yellow page ads for years, will suddenly change his advertising behavior just because its offered.  “That’s scary to a small business.  They’re risk averse. It’s not money coming out of the boss’s wallet. It’s their money.”

The three cornerstones of success:

  • Relevance: Readers are on a mission looking for a complete solution that help them get the job done.
  • Resonance: Readers shop for authorites who see the world the way they do … do these people look like me, act like me, like the places I like?
  • Actionable: Readers want to act on information quickly.

A lot of business models today are predicated on the idea that everybody is going to create their own ads. That’s not going to happen.  Newspapers and yellow pages have an advantage because of their large advertising forces.

Three things necessary for success:

  • First, scale. You need enough traffic to pool readers around local merchants;
  • Second, you’ve got to own something, either content or services, that bring people to your site;
  • Third, you need an interesting product that readers will want to use.
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2 thoughts on “Kelsey: Peter Horan on intention-driven media

  1. Horan’s comments are dead on. However, I think that in the world of Web 2.0 — it is not the authorities people are looking to hear from but their peers. Peer reference is the real key to power of the web today. I believe that the power of local media will be enhanced greatly via this model rather than the older model of waiting for the Fashion Editor to tell me where to shop.

  2. Mike, I think I took Horan a little differently. The experts become you and me and our neighbors. We come to recognize them as experts because we respect their opinions. Pitchfork is an example — a bunch of people who loved music started a web site where they shared their music criticism in a very non-professional voice. Other music lovers learned to trust those voices. They connect with the reviewers as friends, not just as critics.

    In the same way, I think your Fashion Editor can learn to be that kind of peer-respected expert, if he or she drops the institutional voice in writing and shares in a way that is personal and resonates in ways that say, “I’m like you.”

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