I have a slight problem, one which I struggle with and well it is in fact a big problem……. it’s Google. Google has changed our lives and is probably one of the or if not the most influential brands of our time. But since Google was formed in the university dorms by the Google Guys a lot has changed and it seems Google has forgotten the very core of what they stand for – don’t be evil!
Looking at it from a marketers perspective I am torn about how I feel about the brand. On the one hand, I am concerned by their domination in search and how the lack of competition will drive up paid search costs in the coming years. This will have a massive impact and price many small businesses out of the market, which are those same businesses who over the past 5 years have built their business around the search engine.
However on the other hand I am grateful for the way they have transformed the online media industry almost forcing platforms to move to a cost per action model enabling marketers to deliver guaranteed return from investment. And even more so I am pleased to see Google keeping the “bastards honest” as they say in the analytics industry.
And whilst I hold high admiration for their level of innovation I am concerned just how far Google will go in the name of profit. You see the bottom line is Google is a media company. And like any media company Google must enhance the user experience as much as possible to keep the money rolling in – and this is at the expense of many industries that fund their own existence.
So whilst Google dominates the search landscape this is not enough for them. Google has their eyes firmly set on 3 core areas. So what are they and what is the impact on the existing market players and the industry.
1. Mobile Space
Google knows the mobile battle ground is one that needs to be fought given its potential in the coming years. However for once it has some stiff competition with Apple. It although seems the pursuit to innovate will impact more than just Apple themselves. Only 2 days ago Google announced their intentions to weave technology for driving directions and road data into new versions of its Android operating system for smartphones, which is wrecking havoc to the Satellite Navigation industry.
2. Own Vertical Segments
Google also realises that horizontal search engines don’t cut the mustard like they used to. Engines that are able to aggregate different forms of data and provide a more rich user experience throughout the various stages of decision making will dominate the search landscape. As such in Australia Google has its sights set on the property sector having released their own property search overlay on Google Maps. In addition if we look further afield to the US we see that Google has also made a move into the mortgage market. Google has also shown they want a greater share of the music pie launching “OneBox” in conjunction with MySpace’s iLike and Lala.com. This is definitely just the beginning and unfortunately this could spell an end to the aggregator models that dominate industries such as jobs, finance and even travel.
3. Social media
This is definitely one area that is threatening Google’s revenue model. Users are spending increasing amounts of time on social sites. As a category in Australia social media is about to overtake search engines and this is likely to be similar across the world. Google’s latest move in the social search space is its first major step to try to bring consumers back to Google by acting as a central source for their social media activities.
Google’s social search also aggregates a users social circle activities with existing search results – adding a more dynamic way of aggregating social elements into the existing search infrastructure. View more information here. This combined with Google Wave signals there need to be getting a greater slice of the pie in this market. But this is one area that I think they can’t win and thus we will continue to see Google attempt to acquire some of the big boys as their efforts fall short of engaging consumers…….. at least for the next few years.