The discussion regarding news content, pay walls and Google allegedly thieving moneys from content providers rages today with an OpEd of sorts (“How Google Can Help Newspapers”) from Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The irony of this story landing in Murdoch’s paper, and the fact that it will spread like wildfire via Google aside, his arguments are weak, unclear, boring. One interesting thing he said: “Now search engines like Google connect advertisers directly with consumers looking for what they sell.”
What Schmidt really means is that Google is a cheap go-between (read: replacement) for your agencies. Though you may not be worried about this today, consider Semantic Web for a moment. Semantic Web is essentially the next phase in search. Rather than searching by keyword, this advanced search function (which still isn’t really available to the general public) will focus on phrases, idea formation — more or less, search tools will read your mind and deliver results you want. Think of it as Google on steroids.
Microsoft’s Bing hinted at this phase in their launch campaign, where one person says something and someone next to them starts spouting things related to a word the first said. Related, but not what the first person was talking about. These ads highlight the main problem with basic search functions: results that don’t pertain to a query are wasting space that could be filled by paying customers who the searcher wants to find.
Though Schmidt talks search in context of news, he also states “The revenue generated from the ads shown alongside news search queries is a tiny fraction of our search revenue.” Read: Google can take or leave moneys earned via news-search ads.
The lack of detail in this story hints that he’s not saying much about news because his company isn’t too concerned about it. Other than their latest news tool, FastFlip — Google touts it as the next phase of online reading “Our news partners will receive the majority of the revenue generated by the display ads shown beside stories,” he says — the software company has other plans for cashing in on search.
And now we get back to your clients, who have the money Schmidt wants. With semantic Web capabilities Google will optimize its ability to target consumers. We can’t say it’ll kill your business, but odds are Google will become a larger distribution player than ever before. Who knows what else lurks behind those walls.