Are Google selling out?

We’ve all heard the reports that Google are buying a chunk of AOL – no doubt to keep their business and probably to stop Microsoft from buying them up! But now, the latest story to hit the wires (New York Times) is that Google are going to start running banner ads in search results!

Google originally set itself apart and thus made its name by only having text ads – this, if it does happen would be a major step backwards for Google and may push users into trying out their competition (MSN and Yahoo!) – why not? What is Google’s unique selling point now?

Hopefully this is a kite flying excercise which will get shot down by negative reaction from the Internet…

13 thoughts on “Are Google selling out?”

  1. Tom Feremski talks about AJAX apps behind banner ads. That may sound a bit weird but it makes a huge amount of sense to me.

    I put this in the context of my professional audience and the potential to achieve a global audience.

    Given bandwidth considerations, is there really any reason why say movies couldn’t be run behind a banner? That would be about exploiting the current wave of development interest.

    This can be taken a lot further and today, unlike in 2001, we have many of the technologies necessary to make this stuff work well.

    Google selling out? Nah – upselling itself. You can be sure they’ll be on to this. The beauty of what Tom is suggesting is that you can conceive of leveraging real time capability to not only deliver what the customer wants but also to capture information about what the customer is thinking and their acceptance or otherwise of the ad. That’s never been done before as far as I know.

    This is not click through analysis – this is choice analysis based upon the quality of the message.

    It would hone a company’s messaging in ways we’ve yet to see. All of which will be good for customers and vendors. It’s about getting feedback at the customer tip point based on events -the kind of thing Ismail was on about the other day but without all the tagging stuff – and then processing that data according to appropriate business rules.

    From there it is a short step to delivering enhanced value back to the customer.

    Since that seems to be Google’s main aim, why would they not go graphical? In the world of Web 2.0 (yuk but it’s apropos) it’s adapt or die. No sentiment for the past here.

  2. Google are a publicly traded company and have stock holders now, this whole “do no evil” nonsense is just that, nonsense, if it gets in the way of revenue generation.

    This is just the first of many big compromises Google is going to make as time goes on.

  3. Interesting comments guys, thanks.

    Coincidentally I am interviewing Vint Cerf (Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist) later today – do you guys have any questions you’d like me to put to him?

  4. I wouldn’t expect Vint Cerf to be able, or even willing to answer a question phrased the way I’ll ask this one but regardless.

    Is Google’s investment in AOL nothing more than a defensive play in order to keep other vendors out of the existing Google/AOL relationship? It appears to offer Google very little upside, what does he think the upside is to the company is in the long term?

    Also, for the quality of technical people Google have brought on board and the reputation the company has as an innovator some people are starting to say Google is more brand & hype than anything else. They say Google has little to no technological advantage over it’s two major competitors. What examples would he give of Google being clearly out in front?

  5. Sorry Mark – the interview finished at 3pm this afternoon – thanks anyway.

    I’ll be publishing it probably this day next week – keep an eye out on

  6. You actually record the podast when you say you will?

    No I don’t – I just say I do if someone posts questions I don’t want to ask ;-P

  7. Well at least you’re honest about being a whore. Wait did I say whore, I meant “journalist” ;-P

    Being serious there’s no way in hell I’d expect Vint to be able to even take a stab at answering those. He’d have investor relations breathing down his neck for the first one and a PR/Marketing having a fit over the second.

    No longer being serious, when are you going to be asking Eric Schmidt some of your tough questions, like if he were a cloud what type of cloud would he be? Let us know and I’ll comment asking you to ask him when did he first realise that he’d pretty much sunk any chance Novell had of making a comeback?

    It’ll go down real smooth.

  8. Mark: Tom isn’t a journo – if he was, he would not have made the elementary mistake of pluralising the verb in his post heading. Neither would he be asking the community to pitch in with questions. But that doesn’t in any way invalidate Tom’s access. Good luck to the fella.

    I too have history with Eric Shmidt – he’s as hard as nails that man.

    Disclosure: I have the hack tag too – I also have ex-partner in a British firm of Chartered Accountants tag. So I guess…

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