Not a day passes by without us being reminded that new media - blogs, wikis, podcasting, etc. - have obliterated the information asymmetry that advertising and brands have traditionally exploited. We are told that the new blogosphere-enabled consumer is armed to the teeth with information and that in the new world, brands and its consumers are equal.
But every passing day, I am convinced of the opposite. It's true that the gap is decreasing dramatically. But the gap remains and probably will never be wiped out. I am even beginning to believe that the best brands not just exploit information asymmetries but actively create them.
Take this regular feature from the BBC Editors blog for example. It's a guide to pronounciation from the Pronounication Unit of BBC. It smartly exploits expertise that exists within the BBC to create a need in people that they didn't know existed.
Until yesterday I had no idea what the correct way to say Clydach (a Welsh town) was. And nor did I care. But by actively making me aware of my ignorance and then addressing that shortcoming, this wonderful regular feature has me hooked. No matter how far away I wander in my daily life, I return faithfully every day to this oasis like a wandering bedouin.
And isn't that what the best bloggers do? Actively create bubbles of information asymmetries - an expectation of finding out/ experiencing/ replenishing something in their readers - and then fulfil that promise. Just like the best brands.
So the next time you read reports of the death of information asymmetry, do remember they might just be greatly exaggerated.