Saturation = "The flooding of a market..." can be applied to more than just traditional advertising. When will we reach the "clutter" point of diminishing returns (more is less) in relation to how many Internet pages (and keywords) are indexed by the leading search engines? Precision must reign over Saturation. Kevin Ryan says "give your visitors choices but let them choose what they want and keep it clean." Is he saying "Keep It Simple Stupid"? He was also talking about "Vertical Creep into Regular Search Results" (see Search THIS, Clutter, Relevancy & Search). So, saturation and clutter are everywhere online, and it is not going to get better! The "Vertical Creep" topic was also part of the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, Ca.: Vertical Creep Into Regular Search Results.
"Clutter" can be applied to many things besides the amount of Internet content and advertising. But, thank God, contextual, PPC advertising (which is less dominating than "Rich Media" advertising) still rules. While "clutter" can mean "unorganized", it can also mean intrusiveness into people's limited time restraints. This intrusiveness can be accompanied by finding "not so relevant" search results within the PPC real estate of the search engine results pages. Often times the PPC results will not take you to exactly what you want to research or buy. In my 9 years of my reps and I selling advertising in an online Industrial Directory, I have seen advertisers place ads under "headings" or "keywords" because they hoped people would go there and buy the "related to the keyword" item that they had to sell. It was called the "Mc Donald's approach" (get them to come for "burgers", but really try to get them to buy the higher profit "fries").
While the trend has been to have more "Sponsored Links" on SERP's, which goes against the research that has been done regarding what the end user wants, this INTRUSIVENESS seems to prevail. Will the consumer-users exercise the power they already have? What will it take? How far can they be pushed into saying that they don't want online search to go the way of "ad cluttered" TV (almost more Paid ads on the SERP than organic content).
Yes, TV is a "mass market" media, and online search is growing its mass market share as Internet broadband is adopted. But, I believe that most users want the organic search results, because they inherently don't trust "advertising" even when it is disguised as benign, online PPC listings. "TIVO for TV" is a way for consumers to exercise their power over what they want to see. Let's hope that it doesn't get to the point on the Internet of some company doing "TIVO for the Search Engines", because the Search Engines are not paying attention to what the users really want: precise, personalized, relevant, fast results, and a way to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what each user perceives to be the quality of those results. The online consumer-user screams "Save me time and money, and let me decide when I want to buy vs. when you want to sell me."
4/19/06 Postscript = As of 3/24/06 the ANA has a new blog entitled "ANA Marketing Maestros". It has a 4/10/06 blog post entitled "Clutter, Clutter Everywhere" that talks about the persistent problem of too much clutter in traditional media.