Information Technology Strategy: Class 9 – Google

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Obviously, Google is a pretty big subject to cover in only one class. You could teach an entire quarter on Google highlighting all that the web giant offers, but . . . I only had 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Google, for lack of a better way to say it is the web. Without Google the vast ocean of content would be relatively inaccessible.  Metaphorically, Google could also be thought of as the axle and the chassis. Without those items, the wheel would be nowhere. You’d have a round object that rolled down the hill with no way to control/utilize it.

The Internet is comprised of three things; information, entertainment and communication. All of these take many forms and specific to Google we reviewed the following.

Information – One of the informational areas that’s currently exploding is mapping. Google committed several years ago to creating their own mapping data which is a lot like saying I’m going to boil the ocean to make some soup. As far as their market share, Google Maps was equal to MapQuest as of February 2009. (Living in Denver, with the MapQuest office less than a mile a way, I can tell you that the rumors of MQs demise over the next few years are true. I had a chance to work with the MQ team in 2006 – when they had 71% market share – and they simply got outpaced by Google. Google offers street-level views and now include elevation in their API. It’s also easy to imagine Google incorporating real time views into higher traffic venues, much like Microsoft Live Labs demonstrated at a TED Talk.

Communication – I always thought Google would buy Skype. Google seems to understand the multifaceted forms of communication that exists online. They did create Google Voice after all featuring such options as the SMS to email feature.

EntertainmentGoogle TV. This was recently announced at the Google I/O event and the idea is really simple; treat television content like web content and pull it into search results. The announcement provided a more thorough explanation and the ultimate goal is to have the flat panel at home be your TV, Internet, Phone, IM, email, etc – with you using Google to find everything. AND with over 4 billion TV users, you can understand why Google wants to sell ads in this medium. (They already do but we’ll get to that in a moment.)

Before there was Google TV, there was YouTube. Google bought them for over $1 billion and spent $100 million defending them from Viacom. Many cite YouTube as one of, if not the biggest of Google’s failures, with the company losing an estimated $471 million on 2009 alone. YouTube is enormous but the majority of video watching is owned by a splintered market. YouTube has enabled businesses to brand themselves by creating Business Channels such as this one for Icelantic Skis. We then reviewed Mashable’s suggestions around building a loyal audience on YouTube and the introduction to closed-captioning of YouTube videos. The closed captioning dumps a ton of searchable content into the Internet. (video below) We also reviewed the ability to annotate videos on YouTube. As a business, if I have created my own channel, why not allow my fans to add annotations on the video? This type of engagement goes a long way towards deepening relationships.

From there we moved on to Google as the owner of 80% all Internet searches in the United States. Remember, Google is an academic business at its core. They just happen to have a bunch of smart business people funding the endless summer of development! This video by Matt Cutts helps explain how Google’s search works. It’s important to remember that Google will change their algorithm whenever they feel like it. This means that you could be on the top of page 1 of the search engine results today and by tomorrow you could be on page 5! (Some have called for Google to be regulated.) Google has recently introduced the concept of social search, which means as a user you could see results at the bottom of page 1, featuring content created by someone within your social circle. After that we talked about the importance of getting search right as a business. I recently posted about this and if you’re a business that requires a site search, you should consider Google’s Site Search, which can be customize if you’d like.

We then reviewed the initial version of search that Yahoo! provided back in the day. Essentially one big FAT drill-down exercise. We then talked about Bing and it’s business focus. (Bing + Yahoo = 20% of the market) The example I brought up (which had worked that morning but failed to work that night) was a search on Ankor Wat. The goal was to show how Bing is a business centric search engine while Google is an academic/math based search engine. So, when I searched on Ankor Wat that morning, one of the first non-paid results were for a tour group of Cambodia/Ankor Wat while Google results had the Wikipedia entry first and a host of others. By the time class rolled around, Bing had changed their SERP. The point still stands though. Google is about finding information while Bing’s goal is facilitating business.

We then touched on the fact that Google doesn’t own search internationally. The axis of non-evil is as follows:

We then discussed the gradual migration of advertising from a CPM model to a CPA model and reviewed a host of Google’s ad offers.

  • Adsense – These ads can be featured on your site and are contextual based on the content in the site.
  • AdWords – These ads are featured on Google’s search results page down the right hand side and are also contextual.
  • Radio – Google is now out of the radio ad business but is exploring audio streaming opportunities. Essentially they want to place ads into all mediums . . .
  • Television – Yep. You can use the AdWord Mechanism to buy television ads!
  • email – Yep again. Google places ads in email. Contextual of course!

We then moved on to cover Google Analytics. I logged in and reviewed some of the functionality in the tool. There’s a lot that Google Analytics can do and guess what? it’s free!

Some of Google’s “pet projects” we discussed are:

  • Chrome – This is currently a browser and will soon be a cloud based OS.
  • Google Health – This is Google’s answer to Road ID. They want to allow you to access your health information from anywhere.
  • Android – This is Google’s mobile OS. In my opinion the primary reason it was created was to deliver mobile ads. However, it’s turning into much more. They recently announced the release of an App Inventor that allows the average user to create android apps. There is obvious concern about the quality of ads created this way and things like this really drive the difference between Apple and Google home.
  • App Market – In a me-too effort, Google created an app market. This market is much more open than Apple’s and will continue to grow rapidly.
  • Stats – The AndroLib site has some excellent information about the Android app market and my preference is still Distimo, which features the major players in the app market including Google, Apple and BlackBerry.
  • Google’s Music Service – There are rumors floating around that Google will be launching a music service. Details are somewhat limited but expect it soon.
  • Google Me – Google will once again, attempt to get into the social space as they have with Okrut and Google Buzz. They’re doing this out of fear of Facebook and will most likely fail. I’m just sayin’ . . .

We then finished up with some business recommendations. These are general but most businesses should consider these methods.

  • SEO – If you can’t be found online; you don’t exist. The web is the number one way people gather information (in the US of A) and Google has cornered the market on information gathering. It’s best to think of SEO as a thing you always do, much like site security. You’re never done!
  • Keywords – There are lots of free tools and even more pay-for tools. When thinking about what keywords you should be using, you need to focus on what how your customers see you. Avoid the trap of being internally focused and using jargon specific to your vertical that your customers may not be familiar with. Use words/wording that they’re using. A quick review of Google Analytics will give you a sense of how people find you and you can build from there.
  • Google’s Site Search – If your site needs search then give it to Google. As pointed out by a student, not all sites need an internal search. If your site is simple and not focused on content generation, you can live without site search.
  • SEM – Traffic costs money. You’re either going to pay and SEO person to constantly review the site for performance OR you can pay for paid placement on search results. Either way, get the wallet out if you intend to be successful.
  • Google Places – This is a free option on Google Maps and essential for brick-and-mortar businesses. It provides a deeper, user generated review of a business. Checkout Osaka Sushi’s place page.
  • Google Analytics – It’s a good idea to become well versed in Google Analytics. It provides a clear picture of the type of demand your business is experiencing. Did I mention it’s free?
  • Google Voice – Want to avoid the costly set-up of a business phone system? Use Google voice and Skype to address most of your communicational needs!

Next class is (was) Mobile 2.0!

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I’m an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I’m currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I’m passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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