Hungry Like The Wolf(ram Alpha)

Well, the much anticipated release of the potential “Google Killer” has come and gone. Wolfram Alpha (gesundheit!) was speculated to be the newest semantic search engine to dethrone Google. Alas, it would seem that Wolfram Alpha will not be the engine to fell the mighty king. In fact, it would appear that Wolfram Alpha is not a typical search engine at all.

Here is an excerpt from the Wolfram Alpha website:

“Wolfram Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”

Translation: It will attempt to answer questions.

Wolfram Alpha is the brain child of Stephen Wolfram, a noted scientist and the creator of Mathematica computational software. This newest creation from Steven Wolfram performs queries and returns results that aren’t quite what you would expect from a typical search engine. Wolfram Alpha does things a little bit differently.

When you perform a search with Wolfram Alpha the results are not the typical list of websites and links, but rather a set of answers. For example, if you search “Google” using Wolfram Alpha, you will get a SERP with information relating to Google’s stock price and trading information, as well as historic stock market information related to Google. This is a far cry from what you would see using a traditional search engine. This is because Wolfram Alpha does not bill itself as a traditional search engine, but as more of an “answer engine”, or as their website calls it “a computational knowledge engine.” It was developed to give the user answers to questions directly on the results page — not point the user towards a website.

Now that Wolfram Alpha is live and we understand how it intends to deliver answers, the next logical question is, how will this “answer engine” earn revenue? A few large companies, like Scottrade and Lenovo, have already begun showing sponsored ads on select results pages.

According to the Wolfram Alpha website:

“At present, Wolfram Alpha is concentrating on major corporate sponsorships. In the future, there may be opportunities for more targeted advertising.”

So, it would appear that at some point, Wolfram Alpha may open its results pages to targeted paid advertisers. But since this engine is designed to answer specific questions, and not to point searchers toward relevant web pages, most of the people using it will be (at the very least) in the earliest stages of the buying cycle. When starting an advertising campaign using this type of engine, very intimate knowledge of the consumers buying cycle, diligent statistical research, and active account management are absolutely crucial for success. Of course, a competent and accomplished digital marketing company, like Oneupweb, can help you to successfully achieve your online marketing goals.

What do you think? Will Wolfram Alpha become a viable platform for a successful PPC campaign?