Thoughts on Tech, Deals, and Markets

Early Days of Mechanical Turk

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I have started to encounter businesses that rely on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for key components of their product or service.  For those not aware, it’s a labor marketplace where anyone can pay anyone else to do “HITs,” or Human Intelligence Tasks.  There are currently 722 available tasks, such as “Find the Addresses for  a Business” and “Label images of a device.”  Bidders are offering $.05 and $.04, respectively, per completed task.

It’s non-trivial to figure out where a business can use it and how to implement it.  But those that I’ve talked to who have figured it out have a very scalable, margin-enhancing asset.  I expect to see more and more businesses using it in coming years.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cottage industry arise in consulting for businesses that could use it profitably but need external help to make it work.

On a smaller scale, it looks a bit like early days of PPC advertising.  Before PPC become ubiquitous, profitable keyword-buying opportunities were abundant.  As the value of PPC became established and market awareness grew, competition drove up keyword prices and made it much harder to profit.   Similarly, I think there is low-hanging fruit right now with Mechanical Turk, but within a few years it should become much more competitive.

Written by sandykory

January 12, 2009 at 2:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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