I had a chance to spend some time on the beta version of Yahoo Mindset, an intent driven search tool offering an interesting new model for search based on a user’s intent (or mindset) at the time of searching. The engine poses two opposing ends of the spectrum: researching and shopping. While one is a precurser to the other, the insight behind Yahoo Mindset is that at any point a user is doing one of these tasks, not both. A user’s mindset is similar to their worldview, it is something that is inherent in the moment and very difficult to change. Converting browsers to buyers is not about changing a mindset, it’s about selling to those who are already seeking to buy, but are unsure about where to buy.
Amazon.com is often cited for their deep insight into their customers and ability to make personalized recommendations based on browsing and buying behaviour. The power of "you might also like" has become a uniquely Amazonian idea. Imagine if Amazon and Yahoo Mindset were signals of the future evolution of the internet. What if any search conducted online could be easily filtered for credibility? For popularity? For neutrality? Suddenly the web would become a place where types of content could be grouped together in a logical way to help navigation. There are some signs this is already happening. The blog category feature on Technorati, the rise of content tagging, and the ability to sort search results based on desired features or parameters on a variety of online retail and travel sites.
As innovations on the web continue, I believe the Internet will offer further options for marketers to tailor their messages to the mindsets of consumers and reach them at every point along the purchase consideration cycle. As the quest for relevance in a cluttered and fragmented media world becomes more competitive, the mindset targeting capabilities of the web will contribute to driving more advertisers (and advertising dollars) online.