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April, 2007

Google's Four Part Strategy

Like everyone else in the world, I've been thinking a lot about Google over the last few years. Also like everyone, I've asked myself, "what the hell is their strategy?" While I don't think I have the definitive answer, I have a few insights that are fairly obvious but interesting at the same time.

Organize the World's Information

This is the mission that Google prints on everything they do. Most people get it when it comes to their search engine but don't necessarily see how it extends to the other products like documents. My feeling is that Google is slowly taking over all your desktop documents (not necessarily applications).

Think about it this was: What data exists on someone's local drive and not necessarily online? For most people it would probably be email followed by Word documents followed by excel spreadsheets. Other than PowerPoint can you think of another document lots of people create on a regular basis? Google's goal with Gmail and Docs, then, is to pull those things off your local disk and onto the web. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if in the near future they made this process a whole lot easier with some kind of tool that will scan your machine and upload all of them Google servers.

Sweet Spot of the Purchase Process

Here again, we have a fairly obvious one. Part of the reason AdWords is a money-making monster is because you can catch someone in the sweet spot of the purchase process: Right before purchase. If you are in the market for a digital camera and type the model number into the search box you are a hot lead. Companies are willing to spend a lot of money for you to click over to their store. The question is where else can you find people at this point in the process?

Well, it just so happens 411 is pretty good for that. Think about it, when people call 411 for their local Domino's they are at the same point in the purchase process. Just like AdWords, Google could sell that lead to Pizza Hut for a nice chunk of change. (Truth be told, much of this thinking came from an article whose link I can't find.) For those that didn't hear, Google just happened to have released a 411 service. Coincidence?

The question, then, is where else can you find these people? Stores are an obvious one, though I don't know exactly how that would play out. Google kiosks helping customers get relevant information/do research right at the store? No that far-fetched I guess (though I don't have slightest clue how big box retailers actually work). I'm sure there's more, will just require some imagination.

Always On Campaigns

Google has proven they're committed to shaking up the advertising world. They've rightly noted it's inefficiency and have already caused quite a shakeup by popularizing PPC (pay-per-click). Now they want to convince the advertising world that the whole idea of campaigns is silly. After all, consumers don't think about themselves as fitting into some marketers campaign period: They decide they want something and they buy it. Problem is, in the past there was no efficient way to run your campaigns year-round. Enter PPC (and soon price-per-action) and there's no reason not to. As long as the system runs efficiently, and you're only paying for leads, you can't afford not to run your campaigns all the time.

Google hasn't shown how this model extends into other media (especially those whose metrics are a whole lot less cut and dry), but with the amount of money at stake you can be damned sure they're going to try and figure it out.

People Make Search Better

This is the last piece (or the first piece, I guess, since none of the four were in any particular order). The point here is that Google realizes that algorithmic search only extends so far. Human intelligence will be needed, especially as people react more to the cold, calculated nature of our ultra-efficient algorithm-driven universe.

Google has tried this on a couple of occasions, the most notable in my mind being the Google Image Labeler and My Maps.

Alright, I'm exhausted. Sorry the end of this faded out a bit.

April 27, 2007
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.