Monday, November 8, 2004

The Hidden Cost of Buying Information: Do We Fool Ourselves on Its Value?

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Anne Griffith at the SIIA Content Division for recommending the following article in the Harvard Business Review, an interview with Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School post-doctoral fellow in their Technology and Operations Management Unit. She recently published a working paper, "Getting Advice from the Same Source but at a Different Cost: Do We Overweigh Information Just Because We Paid for It?" The paper's core premise is that when people pay for advice, they are generally more hesitant to discard it as being less relevant based on the fact that they paid for it. In her controlled experiment the subjects were told that the quality of the advice would be constant from free sources and paid sources, yet subjects would rate the value of the paid source higher. Great for folks like us with premium Private Advisory Services, to be sure - and an indicator that decision-makers will always prefer to have some measure of money-valued content behind their decision-making. But is it so clear that this model applies to all premium content? I have my doubts. I believe, however, is that it is pointing that the greatest value in content is when it comes closest to supporting decision-making with trusted opinions. "I trust, therefore I execute" is the magic formula that seems to drive much of today's content value. Does that mean because I paid for it I therefore trust it more? That in and of itself is a dangerous assumption. If the content is well-designed to support decision-making, then perhaps so. This bodes well for the workflow integration movement, but I believe that it has broader implications as well. It will be interesting to see what follow-up research reveals.

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