Marketing terms that will reach the boardroom in 2013: Part IV

Know you searchandising from your calm technology? Make sure you do with our latest instalment of need-to-know buzzwords…


Definition: A portmanteau of search and merchandising, ‘searchandising’ is the combined use of both disciplines by ecommerce websites to flaunt their goods via search engines.

Russell Parsons

Russell Parsons explains:

Reflecting the tendency of marketers to shunt two words together to define trends in consumer behaviour, ‘searchandising’ fuses search and merchandising to describe the way the two disciplines should interact in online retailing.

Taking the two parts separately, search, on the one hand, is fast becoming the primary tool a consumer uses both to research products and services and to find a site from which to purchase.

In the bricks-and-mortar world, meanwhile, the discipline of merchandising is virtually as old as the practice of retailing itself.

The front-of-store displays of products on offer, the end of the aisle collection of just-to-market products and sectioned off sales promotion items are, to this day, tried and trusted methods of maximising sales. Bearing these facts in mind, searchandising is likely to be the key to prosperity for ecommerce sites.

For example, searchandising opens up possibilities for displaying products in groups based on the search terms consumers are using and on stock levels. It’s something that will be especially important as Google rolls out its Google Shopping listings, including prices and pictures – although not as important as how much ecommerce sites pay Google, according to rival Bing.

Savvy employment of search analytics can also produce bespoke search results, prices and promotions for customers based upon previous behaviour.

In the ever-changing world of ecommerce, searchandising’s influence on the bottom line is outstripping that of website design. Doing all that is possible to draw likely purchasers to your site – and to serve them with relevant products when they get there – is the way for e-tailers to get and stay ahead of rivals.

As much as it carries a name that is likely to jar, the concept is essential to future success in the ecommerce market.

‘Landfill marketing

Definition: The large volume of poorly targeted marketing messages found online, created with little strategic thought for what its purpose is.


Branwell Johnson explains:

The advice offered by home renovators and some property TV programmes is to “declutter”, but the marketing world is doing exactly the opposite. Particularly in digital marketing channels, many brands appear to take the view that if they’re not saturating consumers’ minds with their messages, they’re not doing their brand awareness job effectively.

A key definition of ‘landfill marketing’, as given by Peter Parkes, strategist at Made by Many, is “marketing communications no one wants trying to flog something no one needs”, or more prosaically “putting more shit in more places”.

Social media platforms are full of games no one is playing and invitations from brands to share a “naughty secret” or “confession” that consumers are finding easy to ignore. Companies are often deluded about the appeal their brand has for interactivity, or its ability to be involved in “great content creation”. Agencies, for their part, are sometimes too weak to naysay such projects.

Not only is much of this marketing failing to engage the desired audience and wasting a lot of budget, it could also be diminishing the equity of brands by lying scattered around the internet being visibly ineffective.

How often are agencies or their clients ‘housekeeping’ their digital estate and checking that customer comments and posts have not degenerated into expletive-filled insult posts and porn links?

Some products or services are just downright functional and if they work as promised that’s the best marketing communication available.

The marketing landfill is analogous to all the space junk floating around the earth that has been blasted into orbit and then forgotten and left to decay. But at least this superfluous marketing hopefully won’t have the consequence of crashing into satellites or falling back to earth in a ball of fire.

‘The five Vs’

Definition: There have always been four Vs to describe the capabilities a company needs to make ‘big data’ work – velocity, veracity, variety and volume. Now there is a fifth – V is ‘value’.


Michael Barnett explains:

Those who work with ‘big data’ will probably know that four words beginning with V are often used to describe how businesses now deal with the information flowing through their systems. They are velocity, veracity, variety and volume. Recently, a fifth V has been added: value.

To understand why, it makes sense to explain how the first four Vs define what we mean when we say ‘big data’, the phrase that describes the exponential growth in the amount of data handled by organisations.

The definitions of these four Vs are fairly obvious when you look at them closely. ‘Velocity’ means information needs to travel from point to point at faster and faster speeds. ‘Veracity’ means it needs to be accurate. ‘Variety’ indicates that organisations need to be competent at handling different types of data and putting it to different uses. And ‘volume’ just means there’s lots of it.

All of these are things that your IT systems need to be capable of if you are working with big data. Being better than the competition at achieving each of these Vs has always created significant advantages for companies that depend on data to do business. If you’re a betting company, for example, displaying real-time odds and prices means you need to process a large number of transactions of many different kinds quickly and accurately. On a big event day, this will be tested to the limit as more people go online to have a flutter.

But after a while, each of the Vs becomes commoditised – they’re attributes you can only compete on for a short time, because eventually everyone has access to the same technology. Improvements come in such small increments that they stop making a difference.

This is where the fifth V, value, is needed. It was the coinage of data transfer specialist Push Technology, the company claims, and it entered the lexicon after being picked up in a report by research firm Gartner.

Although the word ‘value’ clearly describes what is needed (and, importantly, begins with a V), by Push’s own admission it tells you little about how to create it. In the company’s view it is about ensuring the right data reaches the right people at the right time.

So, staying with the betting example, the company might want to be able to serve customers with a betting website across a number of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Rather than pushing all the data on updated prices to a device when it accesses the site, information delivery can instead be prioritised so the most recent and relevant prices for the event the customer is interested in are downloaded first.

‘Calm technology

Definition: ‘Calm technology’ enables people to avoid information overload and only engage with the content that interests them.

jonny bacon

Jonathan Bacon explains:

The term calm technology has been attributed to Mark Weiser and John Seeley Brown, who worked at the Xerox research lab in California in the 1990s.

Their definition suggests that computer technology creates a sense of calm among the general population by providing people with solutions in their everyday lives. It claims that computers now simply blend into the background, rather than demanding constant attention.

With the advent of digital platforms like social media, the meaning of calm technology has extended to encompass tools that allow people to navigate the overwhelming barrage of online information that exists. Calm technology helps people to filter out what’s not relevant to them, finding the useful information with less effort and making life easier.

Peter Veash, managing director of The Bio Agency, suggests that niche, small-scale social networks are a good example of calm technology. He points out that more content-focused sites like Pinterest and Chime In have allowed people to shut out the “digital noise” of larger, more established social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“Whereas the bigger sites have been heavily infiltrated by vast numbers of users, brands and external apps, and are indiscriminate in the kind of content they choose to focus on, newer sites make a point of being simple,” says Veash.

As Marketing Week has reported (, niche social networks are growing rapidly as people seek to engage with a more specific and tightly defined community of users. Spiceworks, for example, was founded in 2005 as a community for IT workers in small and medium-sized enterprises. The site could be termed calm technology in that it provides these workers with a means of quickly sharing ideas and finding answers to their problems without reverting to the chaos of the wider internet.

Content curation, in which content is tailored towards users’ needs is another example. There are signs that brands are increasingly catching on to this trend. In September, Procter & Gamble’s male grooming brand Gillette launched the Gillette Football Club (GFC), YouTube’s biggest branded channel to date and a hub for football videos with over 150 other channels contributing content. Gillette claims the channel is an antidote to the “hugely scattered” world of online football. The GFC is intended to offer an altogether ‘calmer’ alternative.

Another way to look at this is to think of it as being relevant and targeted with the digital services you provide as a business. If you know there’s an audience looking for something specific, you’ll be a more successful business if you make it easier for them to reach that information. As far as buzzwords go, ‘relevance’ is likelier to be on the tip of marketers’ tongues than ‘calm technology’.