Baynote Offering Brings Business Value To Social Search

The Long Tail, the now-famous reference to targeting customers that buy the hard-to-find or nonhit items, got a little shorter with the <a href="">release</a> of Baynote's Merchandizing and Editorial Console.

George Dearing, Contributor

May 13, 2008

3 Min Read

The Long Tail, the now-famous reference to targeting customers that buy the hard-to-find or nonhit items, got a little shorter with the release of Baynote's Merchandizing and Editorial Console.In an exclusive interview with InformationWeek, Baynote CEO Jack Jia demonstrated how companies like The Knot, US Appliance, and are using its new offering to tap the wisdom of the "invisible crowds" and deliver highly specialized content in real time.

"Leveraging crowd wisdom is especially important in content and product-rich long tail sites where manual merchandising and editorializing just isn't timely or cost effective," said Jia.

Jia's enthusiasm for what he calls "social search" is contagious, and with good reason. The young Bay Area company has quickly made a name for itself by taking an almost academic, if not scientific, approach to dealing with how to help customers engage Web users.

"We're really changing the paradigm of how a media or e-commerce site is run. Most of the time the community wisdom prevails, but in today's dynamic Web environments there are times when you may want to promote certain content to the top or even remove particular recommendations," said Jia.

In one example, Baynote described how US Appliance was able to quickly adjust its content and search results based on its users' true intent. The e-commerce company saw that most users were searching for "stoves" instead of "ranges." The internal Web team was able to not only quickly readjust which content to display, but it also gained valuable insight around complementary products its customers were interested in.

I was impressed with how easy it was to set up the business rules within the console (pictured below), something that Web marketers and overburdened content managers will certainly appreciate. The combination of Baynote's recommendation and affinity engine is powerful when you see it in action.

Baynote's product manager quickly demonstrated multiple e-commerce scenarios in a matter of minutes, altering search results and product descriptions on the fly, without any programming or back-end manipulation of databases or inventory systems. It's that type of flexibility that made the decision to partner with Baynote an easy one for wedding-oriented media company The Knot.

The company's VP of e-commerce, Kristin Savilia, described how her team was able to "pin" the results of a much-needed search result to the top of its site after it realized the particular product wasn't being found by shoppers. According to Savilia, that type of procedure would have taken at least two weeks to accomplish using its typical IT timeline. Savilia added The Knot now generates significantly higher average order value through Baynote recommendations.

I really like the direction Baynote's headed with its road map, particularly the attention to the user experience and flexibility it brings to managing complex and content-rich Web sites. Jia tells InformationWeek consistently that "the more you know someone, the harder they are to predict."

My prediction? Jia and company will be harder to catch over the next 12 to 18 months if its recent release is a sign of things to come.

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