Singularity: "the state, fact, or quality of being singular."
I've been throwing this idea of "marketing singularity" around in my head.
Background: I deal with a lot of small businesses. Many of them are VERY good at what they do. But, not many people know what they do or how good they are at it. Therefore, they are not bigger businesses. Some of my clients are happy with that. Some want to be bigger. But, it's difficult for a small business to get new customers or clients. They aren't sure where or whether to invest in advertising. They don't know exactly what marketing message(s) will resonate with people. They don't know how to demonstrate their expertise. Of course, I send many of them to a sales development professional. And some - I can help them spend small amounts of money and monitor returns. Some of them, it makes sense to hire someone full time to help them grow the business. But, whether they invest in marketing or sales or people, they are constrained by cash flow. Thus, the catch-22.
(Update: Read the bottom of this week's newsletter if you are a small business owner and want to know how all of the jibberish below effects you.)
Then comes the internet. eBay showed us that the internet could help sellers reach loads more buyers than a smaller [flea] market could. Liquidity started to enter the market for buying and selling "stuff". eLance, Monster, Craigslist, realtor.com came along and demonstrated that big markets could leverage vertical applications to produce liquidity for those markets. Now, there's less friction for a buyer to find a seller. The internet now sells real estate. The internet now identifies talent. Liquidity rocked the staffing/recruiting and Realty businesses. But, not alot else.
In terms of an advertising marketplace, until Overture invented PPC and Google brought it to the masses of small businesses, searchers and small web publishers, there's never been a more liquid advertising platform. They match expressions of intentions (searches or reading a certain type of content) with ads based on that context. They do it with geographical focus. Improvements in these methods are being seen - too - with behavorial targeting, where profiles of individuals are being grouped and matched to ads... all while ad perfomance is being monitored and improved. Ads are now targeted to people's intentions, place and time like never before.
But, there's still friction. Most small businesses don't know how to leverage these tools. And to many small businesses, it's still too difficult to finance effective advertising campaigns.
The next big development is transparency in ad pricing. We're starting to see it. Exchanges where advertising networks (or advertisers) bid and publishers ask for prices in an open transparent bidding marketplace are bringing transparency. Right Media was acquired by Yahoo. Doubleclick (being acquired by Google) has a project. Now, Microsoft announces they are buying AdECN. Root Markets, among others is doing it for lead generetion. But, these nascent exchanges are mostly being used by large advertisers and bigger publishers (Right allows smaller publishers). With automation, more advertisers and publishers will participate in the exchanges. But, it remains to be seen whether these markets will fully automate, attract more buyers and sellers and become liquid. (Given that the biggest 3 "publishers" have bought the exchanges, I imagine we'll just have 3 big isolated marketplaces with overlap on the fringes.)
All of these developments beg for the question to be asked, "Are we approaching marketing singularity?" Are we lowering the barrier to zero for problem-havers (aka buyers) to find the best problem-solvers (aka sellers) or more aptly for an individual seller to attract buyers.
When will the ROI for online advertising negate (make unncessary) all other marketing activities? When will the system do the thinking for the advertiser and the buyer so the process is automated? Will advertising be the first market where we see technology completely take over the role of humans? (in matching buyers to sellers). When will an advertiser be able to invest a small amount of money and achieve a return almost immediately?... so that cash flow is available to invest in attracting more buyers. When will a buyer immediately be able to find the most qualified provider for their need? When will advertising ROI/time approach infinity?