“Fresh Fish!!! Freshest and cheapest in the whole of Mumbai!!!” – loud goes the fishmongers’ shrill call at the Crawford fish market in Mumbai, cutting through the deafening clamor. You approach the wares on display. Surely, the varied assortment of the seafood on display seems to stand out on account of being the freshest among the wares of all the other vendors in sight. The prices too seem to be the best that you can find. All has seemingly gone well and you seem to be set for a delicious fish dinner tonight. You feel pretty good about yourself about having got the best deal- the freshest fish at the best price! You couldn’t have asked for anything more! Nothing can spoil this feeling of being on top of the world.
Not even better information? What if you find out that the fish that you bought was not as fresh as claimed by the seller? What if after you reach home, your neighbor tells you that you paid 20% more than what you would’ve paid for fresher fish at the 4 Bungalows Fish market in Andheri. How angry would you be– enough to go back and lash out at the fish merchant? Would you tell your friends and colleagues? Would you write a bad review in the food section of a newspaper (assuming you had the power!!!)? You might do any or all of these. You have strongly expressed your anger at the misuse of information asymmetry used by the fishmonger.
Now, consider that your ability to lash out at the fishmonger could increase multi-fold. You had the ability to not only tell your friends and colleagues, but also their friends. You could write a review that would last more than a single day in the newspaper, and stay available for being read by anyone for evermore. What if your neighbor gave you his information while you were at Crawford market? Scary for the fishmonger, wouldn’t you say so?
This is exactly what is happening with the popularization of the Internet and Social media. Signaling – used in traditional marketing – to inform customers about a product or a service needs to be done very carefully in the digital world. If the information put out by marketers does not stand the test of screening, there can be a tremendous backlash against the company. For a content aggregator, this can spell doomsday. If an aggregator loses credibility and becomes known for non-reliable information, it will spell certain doom for the company.
With the advent of the digital world, with social media at its forefront, aggregators simply cannot afford to put out content that does not stand the test of screening. Otherwise, they are likely to realize in the most undesirable of ways the full power of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress and many more social platforms!!!