PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Like the boiled frog, Google is slowly becoming a destination site…

…as soon as they integrate Double-click, my bet is this pace will quicken. Comscore released preliminary data today during the Orion Panel on Universal Search at SES that showed users clicked on links and ads less often when universal search results where included along with the ten blue links. This is not surprising as Google has begun injecting content into the search results such as video, news, stock charts, etc., all of which “get the user to their answer faster”. That is good for the user on the surface…but clicks on ads drops as well which is bad for revenue…unless you replace those CPC ads with CPM ads (enter Double-click). There are three basic types of search – navigational, informational and transactional. The transactional search (Cars) is ideal for CPC and represents the most profitable search category for Google. Informational searches (News on Brett Favre) are not as profitable using CPC monetization and my bet is that Google will start experimenting with inserting CPM based ads from Double-click into informational search results to increase revenue per search.

As John Battelle points out here, over the past few years Google has added YouTube, Google News, Google Maps and Knol…all destinations and all falling into the category of “informational” searches. Google is becoming a destination just like Yahoo. They are a media company and want to keep their users attention in order to increase ad revenue. Knol is a perfect example…Wikipedia is hugely successful…Google is not content with capturing the search revenue generated by simply sending users to WikiPedia. My guess is that most searches that end up at Wikipedia are informational searches, so these searches are not as profitable for Google. By creating its own version of WikiPedia, Google can keep this traffic and monetize it beyond the search results page, or the “second click” as John Battelle refers to it (and my guess is with CPM ads).

Universal search is, in theory, better for the user if they find their answer faster. However, if Universal search places preferential treatment for Google content that may be inferior (Knol, Google Finance) to the content on other sites (Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance), then the user ultimately loses. This also sets search back ten years when “sponsored” search results where always at the top of search results and users where uncertain if they were clicking on a link because it was the best result or because that publisher paid for placement. Part of why Google beat all the other search engines was because they clearly delineated between organic and paid results. Google is becoming its own sponsored result and walking a fine line with objectivity in its results.

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March 19, 2008 Posted by | Google, Search as Destination, Universal Search | , , | Leave a comment