Perhaps online community today is not so different from Don Quixote chasing after windmills, mistaking them for giants. Excessive web browsing might yield more or less similar symptoms of lunacy as those displayed in Quixote's mad adventures.
If web were to appoint godfathers, Michael Saavedra Cervantes, Don Quixote's inventor, would be a very appropriate candidate. Already founding father of European literature, his one and only book's structure is not too dissimilar to myriad of modern cyber texts.
For starters, you often don't know where Quixote and his squire Sancho end one adventure or where they begin another. Also, Don Quixote offers an abundance of contradiction, imagination beyond what is ordinary, subplots here there and everywhere. And this is not where comparison ends. There's even interaction between author and characters without it seeming to be a violation of characters or of story itself.
It's a bit ironic that despite high technology and 500 years or so that have gone by since book was published haven't made us invent a clearer concept of interactivity. Today, people interacting with their search engines are having a hard time actually finding efficiently what they are looking for. At same time, companies run huge financial risk if their websites fail to secure high rankings in search engines. Where's interactivity that actually connects efficiently all time?
To stand out from crowd in cyber space, you need a well-thought out concept. But where to begin? Researching status quo of internet marketing is a good starting point because marketing guys are there to bridge gap between companies and customers.
The main theme of marketing studies at moment is customer research. A lot more money gets spent on consumer behavior than before deflation of dotcom sector. The trend is driven by companies turning to quantitative analysts to find hard and decisive numbers about their actual consumer markets.
Here goes, more you can fragment a market, better one's chances (of controling it). Nothing new. What is new is way marketers are devouring data, dissecting it like biologists would owl droppings. Hopefully, interpretations of findings are not exactly stomach turning but contributing to better interactive patterns.
So this is where we are - at beginning of an understanding-based approach of customers. The trend has been termed 'new marketing' or 'behavioral marketing'. Wonder how companies are dealing with this? If you may believe experts, companies are aiming to gradually reach higher click/sales conversion rates from their marketing campaigns, rather than going for quick sales. Apparently, focus is more long term and on an increased understanding of what brings buyers to their decision.
Marketers say it's back to drawing board throughout bank. The very beginnings of buying funnel are now researched in greater depth. This is good to keep in mind when you are getting to grips with cyber culture. Search behavior is focus of a lot of market research, if only because so much information that comes out of this has yet to be capitalised on.
But marketers have a hard nut to crack here. Our search behavior is very difficult to describe in words, let alone pour data on it in models and derive a sensible meaning from it. "Searching has become such an intuitive function, we tend not to give actual search process much thought", writes Gord Hotchkiss from Enquiro, a US firm that specialises in people's search behaviour.
The company's research into way people browse for stuff is so simple you would think most of findings would have been included in assumptions some five years ago. Yet many marketers were reported to be astonished at findings. It appeared that it is very unlikely that two people perform identical searches even if they are looking for same thing. Other firms confirm Enquiro's experiment. iProspect conducted a survey that pointed out that search engine click through behavior can only be categorised by a few, very vague, denominators; gender, education, employment status. The study also underlines that frequency of internet use and internet experience are factors here.