Context is Queen

Chess Queen

Image courtesy malias via Flickr Creative Commons

We’ve all heard the phrase “Content is King.” And I couldn’t agree more, but in the age of mobile we’ve also crowned a Queen and her name is context. So while content may reign, the Queen is still the most powerful piece on the board.

In a sense, you could say the Queen frames the way the game is played.

A few of weeks ago I was returning from a trip. My plane got in late, exhaustion had set in, hunger was keeping me from thinking clearly and hadn’t seen my wife in 5 days. She picked me up at the airport, and we proceeded to starting looking for places nearby to get dinner. My mobile search revealed multiple options, so we picked one and stopped in.

“Sorry sir, the kitchen is closed.”

This was at about 10:00pm on a Monday mind you, but I was hungry. So we moved on to the next place, then the next. All of them had closed the kitchen, so even appetizers at the bar weren’t an option.

As I got hungrier and more frustrated all I could think was how much I wished I could search only for places that are still open and serving dinner. After the third strike I wasn’t in the mood to keep trying, even by phone, so home we went, without dinner.

Content is a King framed by context which helps that content become more relevant, interesting and a part of our personal story.

Think for a moment about the way you search for information at home, at work and on the go. Depending on the context your needs are different and the results that are most appropriate will change.

Context is typically thought about in terms of time and location, but there’s more to context than just those two things. When determining context a search engine should also consider:

  • Events like holidays.
  • The current season.
  • The type of device you are using.
  • Weather.
  • Your social network.
  • The semantics of your search.
  • Search history.
  • Are you looking for something online or offline?
  • Stored preferences if applicable.

When we were looking for dinner, a better quality set of search results would have taken into consideration time of the day and highlighted the places around me that were still open and serving dinner, not the ones that weren’t.

As you think about how you search and discover, it doesn’t take long to see the power of context sensitive search and the various ways it will be used. Consumers get a better experience and won’t care as much if one of the search results is an ad or paid listing if it’s what they’re looking for and is appropriate for the context.

For example, when I’m searching for a great burger place it might also help me to see the place that is the favorite of my burger loving friends. Is it a warm spring day? It might be nice if there was a patio too. Is the top search result an ad? Who cares, I’ve found burger bliss!

Content is a King framed by context which helps that content become more relevant, interesting and a part of our personal story. Achieving context sensitive search is not easy. The use of ontology driven search engines, with complex taxonomy schemas are just the start. The ability to analyze a social graph and relate the various factors creates a complex equation with the key being the ability to tie it all together.

For merchants & publishers, the benefits of utilizing context are endless. Context sensitive search results will deliver the right results to the right consumers. Data resulting from the delivery of contextual search will make it easier for merchants to determine which forms of advertising are driving business.

For publishers wanting to provide real value to their business customers, context sensitive search and the associated ways of advertising will be a value driven differentiator. Maintaining accurate content is important because bad info (like out-dated store hours) leads to bad customer experiences, hurting the merchants in the process.

Tying it all together is what we do, but tell us…

How would your business put context sensitive search to work? What are the possibilities you can imagine?

4 Responses to “Context is Queen”

  1. […] based on innumerable factors. Things like the time-of-day, weather and season can certainly lend to context, but when you and your employees really know your customers, (that CRM is coming in handy about […]

  2. Sarah Burke says:

    Just a tip, you can search for “open now” restaurants on Yelp. It isn’t always very accurate, but it’s a start. ;)

    Love your comments about Context is Queen and really resonates from my learning a few years ago in my BA in comms.

  3. […] is also a disconnect with consumers who have a real-time need. And context, including immediacy, is growing in […]

  4. […] Context is already critical for local marketing. But even as technologies are starting to catch up with the opportunity, the landscape is changing. Before long context will involve much more than location and time. The amount of contextual data is increasing, the types are expanding, and the demands on consumers attention are growing. […]

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