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The Evolution of Search as Told by Google (video)

 4:17 am on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is pretty interesting:




 1:29 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Official link [googleblog.blogspot.com...]


 8:17 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

The article in the OP calls the video an infomercial. I have to say, they certainly haven't reinvented the infomercial.


 8:48 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I got to the place, early on, where Marissa Meyer describes the importance (in GOOGLE'S mind) that their ads be clearly distinguished from the organic search results. I really got angry at that point and just quit listening, at least the first time I played the video.

Today's top of the page Adwords are almost IMPOSSIBLE to distinguish and Marissa Meyer certainly knows that. I sometimes have to squirm around my laptop to see where the Adwords end and the #1 organic result appears.

There's a lot that I do admire about Google's achievements over the past 15 years - and this video details some of that. But when a key person's comments are so duplicitous as those are, I just see red.

I don't even understand why Google included anything about their ads in the first place. The video didn't go into Adwords as a big innovation or anything in that direction. That whole segment seems only to exist so she can recite that Orwellian storyline about ads.


 9:06 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

+1 tedster! amen.

I got to the place, early on, where Marissa Meyer describes the importance (in GOOGLE'S mind) that their ads be clearly distinguished from the organic search results. I really got angry at that point and just quit listening, at least the first time I played the video.

This is very important to note. I know most tech-oriented people know the ads for what they are. Even some very smart (non-techy) people that I know very often click the ads now believing they are search results. From the early days, the fine folks at Google said that the 'branding' or the 'ads by' text should be the same size or larger than the actual ads; notice how the "Sponsored Links" is now "Ads" and that the text size of the "Ads - Why these?" bit is a smidgen smaller than the actual ads?

The bolded part by me actually represents an underlined link: something they know will detract away from the "Ads" part.


 10:02 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

What's up with Google saying they may demote sites with too many ads... and then this?

Aren't they still in violation of advertising industry ethical standards by failing to put the standard "advertisement" notice above every ad block (Adsense)?


 11:25 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

This video really made me mad! it's a joke, it has to be the single worst PR video I have ever seen.

This video was just done as a PR/lobbying exercise after the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee gave them a grilling the other week about Google showing there own product search (Google Shopping) results always at position 3 yet demoting all price comparison sites for apparently offering no value.

Universal search is just away for google to earn more money. And this video is trying to justify it as being better for users.

I honestly think they should be ashamed of this.

I cant wait for the Antitrust Subcommittee to really go to town on them.


 11:38 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Universal search is just away for google to earn more money.

I'd disagree with the word "just" in that sentence. There are many aspects of universal search that really do work well for users. In addition, there are many times where universal search results do not directly monetize for Google.

Still, all their developments are by necessity designed to help their own bottom line in the long run. I see no fault in that. They are not in the "free traffic for everyone" business - that would be a big fail.


 11:50 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

To be fair to Marissa Mayer - when she was in charge of the Google interface, the ads were clearly delineated. I think she was moved to look after maps in late 2010. And that's the point when G's interface started changing - all those tests at the start of this year, then the black bar at the top, and the yellow of the ad box fading to almost white, and the "sponsored links" changing to "ads".

Prior to that G's interface remained pretty constant for a decade, with only miniscule changes - maybe in her mind, because the old rules applied for so long, she felt they still had force.

No idea who is in charge of the interface at the moment (can't remember seeing an annoucement about it), but they definitely have a different view of how things should be done - and top management appears to support them.


 12:31 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

A well tempered view, Alyssa - and your memory is accurate, too. Google used to be incredibly protective of the layout, but not any more. I guess its "evolution" was too slow for Page's preferred pace of things. If there's anything I see since he took over, it's an accelerated rate of change in all kinds of areas, with more QA problems at launch than we're used to.

I know Google and Page have an immense vision - it just leaves the rest of us gasping for breath sometimes.


 3:24 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

^^ Much of Google's friendly and cuddly public persona was created by public facing employees such as Schmidt, Matt Cutts and Marissa Meyer in how they dealt with the world and the interface. It wasn't created by the founders who mainly kept out of sight but appeared a little prickly and difficult when you got glimpses of them.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out now that the employees have taken a step back (bar Cutts), and the founders have moved into the front position. It already feels like a different company, but too early to say whether that will affect their goodwill with the public.

Your reaction to that video shows that the old narrative already jars with their new reality. But they haven't really come up with a new story-line yet. Which means the jarring will probably get worse.


 1:58 pm on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

A lot of clients I've dealt with had no idea where the ads on the top of the page started because their monitors didn't distinguish the color difference for that first ad block. They thought those were regular organic listings.

I'm sure most regular users don't know the difference either.


 3:09 pm on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

would I be right in saying that Google would have intensely researched how the ads are perceived by the average searcher? So they would have solid figures on the percentages of users who do not realize these are ads?


 3:49 pm on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

At the end of Oct I noticed a test on G where they had a pink line underneath the ads - took a screenshot - see


Haven't seen it since. But I would say that just from doing the test they could see how many people click the ads when the line is there compared to when the line isn't


 5:55 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's a very well put-together video that does capture how Google is continually innovating , but I noticed a few things the video did not include:

Mayer discusses AdWords (starting 57 seconds in), and the timeline shown in the video says Google didn't have ads on its search results until September 2000. That's not true. RealNames, the firm Michael Arrington & I worked at, convinced Google to try our paid search ads - in late 1999. It is perhaps no surprise that Google omits the role a business partner played in convincing them of the value (both in terms of revenue to them, and value to users) of market-based pricing for search ads, but I'm here to tell you & future historians what really happened. Here's the Dec. 2009 press release announcing Google's partnership with RealNames:

[google.com ]

AdWords API
Google is as big a part of our lives as it is today for two reasons:

1. They built the best search engines; and
2. Because they've been the best at monetizing our use of their search engine;

Had Google not out-monetized its competitors, other engines would have been able to secure key distribution deals, such that we'd be using AltaVista, Yahoo, navigating directly via Internet Keywords in the browser address bar, or various other services in lieu of Google. Way back in 2004, Google's traffic acquisition costs (TAC) were 79% of revenues, versus 24% today; back when search was wide open and marketshare much more evenly distributed, Google needed to monetize better in order to earn additional eyeballs. Perhaps Google only wants to tell the consumer-facing version of its search history, but to not talk about the AdWords API is to miss how fundamental it was to Google winning the monetization game. The AdWords API allowed many SEM tools providers (both existing at the time, and new ones thriving today) to bring scale and automation to SEM campaigns, subsequent to which Google's revenues grew from $1B/quarter when the API was launched into beta Q4 2004, to $10B this quarter. 83% of Google's revenues come from 26% of its advertisers (AdAge, Sept 2009), and anecdotally I'd bet close to two-thirds of that 83% is spent via the AdWords API. It's also worth noting that Google's attitude [searchengineland.com] towards AdWords API developers of late is ambivalent.

Nowhere in the video does Google so much as mention the partners that gave them distribution, the agencies that build & manage campaigns, or the trading platforms through which much of their revenues come. Were FedEx, HomeDepot, Ford or WalMart to put to video similar histories of their services, I rather suspect partners would be included and/or figure prominently. Not so for Larry, who, I've been told several times recently, would prefer that not a single company exist in between Google and its users. Larry, keep the following in mind: 1) Max the Maximizer never scaled; 2) your top advertisers shouldn't, don't & won't use your tools for strategic reasons; and 3) the essence of your business model is not search, but rather direct navigation via search for people who already know where they want to go but are too technically inert to use bookmarks and the address bar to get there.

In Google's history of search, you the publisher, you the agency, you the spend enabler... are nowhere to be found.

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