Perception is reality

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Mark Sweney writing for the Media Guardian has an interesting article on major online brands based on data from Hitwise: Google struggles to redefine brand. First of all the ceveat, Hitwise’s data is considered by some within the online space to be less respected than Nielsen Net Ratings and ComScore.

Having examined search term data Hitwise has found that consumer perceptions of the major online brands in the UK are pretty static:

  • Google is associated with search
  • Yahoo! with its portal media properties and its affiliate/distribution deal with BT
  • MSN with messenger

Personally I am not that surprised, when you think about how long it took for each of these organisations to built their specialist areas it is going to take a while to shift perceptions.

There is also the challenge of breaking learned behaviours like Googling, I have been using Google since 2000.

With Messenger, once you have a set of friends on a messenger service you are unlikely to move. At home I have to use Adium to look after friends that I have spread across GTalk/Jabber, AOL/iChat/ICQ, Yahoo! and MSN and then run Skype separately.

The situation is pretty much the same with email, once people have your address, its a hassle to change it. However my situation is atypical because I have a large loose network of friends and would fit in the early adopter/early majority phase of technological adoption.

It did make me wonder if the online market is now more stratified and mature than online brands realised? Google had made inroads with Video, mainly because this was a new market sector so the switching costs or changes in learning behaviour where not that high. Maybe Yahoo! Answers will be a similar breakthrough product?

I am currently reading Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne and will review it on the site once I have finished it; however my initial thoughts are that it outlined processes that the online giants could learn from.