The digerati are all talking about–and using–Google, the search engine du jour, even though the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s google.com site won’t come out of its beta test until some major components, including its ad model, are worked out.
Co-founder and president Sergey Brin predicts the kinks will be worked out soon, allowing the site to officially launch by the end of the quarter. He also says the site, started by himself and a fellow computer science Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, will develop its own ad-targeting technology. “We feel it’s very important to do in-house,” he said. “Our expertise is finding out what information is most relevant for people to see.”
Due to users’ feedback that they’re happy the site has no banners, the ubiquitous boxes will not be the site’s ad model, Brin added. He would not divulge specifics, but said an associates program and sponsorships of query topics are possibilities. “We don’t want to have anything that’s run-of-site, something users are going to ignore,” he said.
Google currently is also hiring a vice president of marketing to oversee future promotions, which could include billboards and magazine ads.
Google executives could look at the company’s own short history as one way to make advertising exciting. While it hasn’t generated revenue, Google has generated buzz, making friends in all the right places.
Last month, it secured $25 million in funding, from Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, both Menlo Park, Calif., and became the provider of the back-end search for uncommon topics on Netscape’s new Open Directory service. Google.com links have also been placed in the search functions on the Netscape homepage and Net Search service. The site now performs about 3 million searches per day, and traffic has been increasing by 50 percent per month.
“Historically, people have come to our site as quickly as we could add capacity,” Brin said. What started as 30 computers in a garage data center now numbers in the hundreds.
In a field already crowded with search services, why is there interest in yet another one? Google uses its PageRank technology to rank searches based on a complex mathematical equation that takes into account other sites that link to it. “A page is important if a bunch of important pages point to it,” explained Brin. “It’s the sum of the pages that point to it.”
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