Monday, November 10, 2008

Click by Bill Tancer Reviewed by Katy Neville

Who knows all your secrets, your vices, or your inner most thoughts? Is it your best friend, your husband, or maybe your hairdresser? We would all like to think that we have a close confidant that we can share every secret with, but the truth of the matter is, most people don’t allow their true feelings to be expressed all the time. Thanks to the virtual world that has all changed.
Bill Tancer has discovered the brilliance behind Google, Yahoo, Ask and many other popular search engines. Search queries are quickly becoming the gatekeepers to societies’ deepest secrets and interests. Instead of turning to a person in times of need, many people are turning on their computers. Once logged on, Bill Tancer and many other data enthusiasts are presuming “we are what we click.”

Tancer works for a company by the name of Hitwise. Hitwise tracks internet user’s actions, search words used, demographics and more and then stores the information in a data base just waiting to be interpreted and investigated. This service is a data lover’s paradise. The program used can pull up the top searches regarding any subject in any time period. The possibilities are endless with the amount of data provided by Hitwise.

This book investigates portions of Hitwise data. One of the most interesting articles, from a marketing standpoint, was Chapter 3: Prom in January. Timing is everything when launching a marketing campaign, and if you truly are a good marketer you pride yourself on knowing when to start promoting your product to certain demographics. When thoughts of promoting prom dresses comes up, many professionals believe that right around the launch of the prom season should marketing begin, March, April, and May. But, if anything that Tancer is saying could be true this assumption would be too little too late.

Tancer, along with the class, also had the gut feeling that prom interest should peak around prom time. That’s why when faced with a search query presenting “prom dresses” as one of the top search terms in January did he start his full on promenade investigation. Tancer was faced with the question, “Shouldn’t our Internet behaviors be somewhat consistent with the way we behave in the real world?” (Tancer, 53) This belief turned out to be false in prom dress shopping as well as many other things.

The culprit to the early prom dress query was magazines. Publications such as Cosmo Girl and Seventeen Prom were hitting news stands as soon as New Year’s resolutions were being made and featuring the “latest” prom fashions. These publications in turn were shaping the way young girls planned their seasonal ball. More teens were in search for the perfect dress not weeks before the big event, as previously thought, but up to four months in advanced. This was the golden ticket for marketers.

The prom theory is just a glimpse of what this book is about. Tancer provides readers with so much interesting data, but never dwells. He can hold your attention, but not bore you. I believe if you are looking for a different type of book that will help you view search engines and internet society in a new way this book is for you. If the saying we are what we eat is true then I’m sure Bill Tancer would like to assume we are what we click. Lucky for us he is the one reviewing all of the clicks, we just get to read about the interesting selections.

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