12 July 2007

Fragmentation - The importance of Tribal Context

One of the more interesting by-products of the Web Life Style has been the fragmentation of the user communities.

Traditionally we have ascribed physical characteristics when we describe people and users. Definitions by:
Sexual Preference,
Economic Profile
etc etc

Traditional media then tried to ascribe people by their media usage characteristics. What DMA you live in, what daypart you belong in etc etc. Even today we see that the long held view of metrics on the web of page views (heck remember when we measured in hits!!!) has been abandoned by none other than Nielsen.

But this traditional characterization no longer applies. Humans have a wonderful habit of constantly evolving. The rate of change has done nothing but accelerate.

Many people can easily scoff at Social Networking as either a flash in the pan or at worst a fad. However we believe that there has been a fundamental shift in thinking and more importantly in behavior that affects consumption and in particular travel.

The characteristics of the users needs a label. Heck we love labels. But in trying to discover a term that correctly defines what we see - we have had to resort to creating our own. We call this new behavior "Tribal Context"

Tribal because the user communities are coming together in a more fluid set of relationships without pattern, these are tribes rather than hard groups They change constantly. Context is much more important because it is no longer mono-cultural - rather the context is dynamic at all levels: Time, Location, Mood, Whim, etc etc. Capturing this constantly evolving elements has created massive challenges for the advertising and marketing chaps attempting to reach these consumers. Past Behavior is no longer any proxy for current or future behavior.

So no matter what side of the game you are on - a user. consumer, supplier, content source indeed any stakeholder, understanding Tribal Context is essential.

Good luck - I am off to pull my hair out to understand how to make it work for our business and our clients...


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