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Click [Miro's Review]

The first book review is in! And the book is Click by Bill Tancer. Miro Slodki pens our first MiniBookExpo: Business Edition review and I’ll give you a preview – he didn’t enjoy it. Here’s his review:

Click’s book jacket starts with a compelling endorsement,
"Bill Tancer is the king of measuring online research. And online research is the Main Street of the new world. Which makes Bill Tancer king of the world or something like that." – Stephen J Dubner, co-author, Freakonomics

Who is this King of the World? Bill Tancer is general manager of global research for Hitwise, the online search/competitive intelligence company. Drawing from the privileged perch of his database, he gives readers a glimpse into the aggregated online behavior of 10 Million American households. "Click – What millions of people are doing online and why it matters. Unexpected insights for business and life." is his first book.

Tancer seeks to illustrate how the internet is becoming a more pervasive mirror of society and how our collective behavior in cyberspace can be used to understand and even presage our future actions.

Part 1 of the book delves into the darker side of the internet and
(American) habits revolving around porn, pills, casinos and celebrity.
From there it skips over into search and My Space/social media.

Part 2 seeks to explore some attempts to use the data to predict
(short-term) outcomes (Dancing with Stars – missed, Residential home
sales – missed, American Idol Taylor Hicks – success, Unemployment
claims – success) based on keyword popularity.

I did not walk away as a fan of this book for two key reasons:

  1. The content/insights seem to be gleaned for general public
    consumption – I found little new knowledge for marketers. For example,
    Tancer seems to make a lot of noise about the linkage between mass
    media and the direct response/impact on subsequent web searches.
  2. There is a lack of theoretical or experiential underpinnings from
    which readers might learn to draw extrapolations. For example, the
    author brings forth the story of the Arctic Monkey’s word of mouth
    success in the social media/MySpace. His ‘popular’ examination of the
    subject matter is limited to innovation diffusion as put forward by
    Gladwell. He suggests that future tipping points can be
    charted/predicted by looking at the intersection of web searches and
    social media buzz, yet armed with access to the data, he fails to put
    forth any formal substantiation.

In his defense however, Tancer does go into a little more detail about his
attempts to make predictions – but pinning down a key learning is
frustrating – unless one finds satisfaction with the Stacey Keibler
Correlation Coefficient (pg 161)- refining gross search term results to
exclude non-relevant entries.

Tancer charts things but offers little insight. Overall, I would rate this book a 2.5 out of 10.

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