Search Vs Discovery, Delivering Relevant Content In The Age Of Mobile

search vs discoveryIn the beginning, there were internet directories. Manually categorized content that made it easy to find what you were looking for in the age of star-field backgrounds and animated gifs.

As the internet grew and the amount of content exploded, the lowly directory could not keep up. That growth gave rise to a new wave of companies who provide search engines.

While search engines have gotten smarter, growth has continued, and context has changed so simple keyword searches with results based on semi-static algorithms is no longer enough. Traditional means of delivering search results ignore data points, which provide context allowing search engines to deliver relevant results.

Leaping off the desktop and into mobile devices means the way we find relevant information around us has also had to change.

Enter Discovery. On the surface, differentiating discovery from search may seem like splitting hairs, but when you look a little closer the differences become apparent.

To begin with, a particular search is often a one time event. I’m looking for something specific and gravitate toward Google, or my favorite local site to help me find it. Discovery, however, is an ongoing exploration of my options.

Search is also based on algorithmic rankings and occasionally a small amount of human intervention. Discovery takes into consideration factors well beyond keyword paring and link ranking. A good discovery engine will also understand your context and take that into consideration when determining what content to serve. Things like location, recommendations from the individual’s social network, time and date, current events (like holidays), and the device being used all go into creating a contextual awareness and present results that are highly relevant and more likely to lead to action.

Search engines are also rewarded for delivering the content that is most popular based on a number of calculated factors. And while search engines like fresh content, it’s the discovery engines that most appreciate and reward fresh and accurate content. That freshness and accuracy are one of the main reasons content publishers need to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to content.

Finally, implied and explicit customer feedback are changing the way discovery engines evolve. The process of discovery leads to building a better relationship with the customer as we get to know them through their digital view of the world.

One of the major advantages for publishers in incorporating a discovery based model is that it opens up new revenue streams and creates new opportunity for the delivery of ad-based content without disrupting the user experience.

At o2o, we build products that take into account search and discovery. Each method has its place, but it’s the context sensitive, customer centric nature of discovery that provides contextual value in the future of content delivery.