Correct me if I'm wrong but...
Google is about to announce their entrance into ecommerce and this could be used to identify what they should feature most prominently. It would be the ultimate tool in product research and Google is about to write content for their ecommerce platform.
If that's the case the information derived from this patent needs to be made public and free or not be allowed in use at all.
I think search engines have no business in ecommerce since one platform renders the other biased and/or unfair. Google should not be allowed to self-police their non-use of unfair practices, serps are already stuffed with Google features and the very sites they rank show up below the fold in many instances, tucked underneath maps, youtube videos, paid ads, affiliate offers etc. It's ugly enough already.
I think it's time to unplug Google from the hundreds of places it's creeped into, once they jump into ecommerce every other ecommerce store is at a distinct disadvantage and there are laws against this type of thing. This patent would ensure others can't have the same information without Google permission.
I also thought it was hypocritical of Google to feature affiliate offers on page one while penalizing affiliate sites.
Google bought youtube, youtube videos appear on page one of most serps in a featured format. Google launched maps, maps appear on page one of serps in a featured format. You know where this is heading and Google is about to go ecommerce. This trend is disturbing and clearly Google DOES rank their content without requiring ranking factors to be applied. I had my fingers crossed they didn't replace their affiliate offers with their ecommerce platform like this but even if they don't this patent lets them cherry pick the web in a way I never could (being that it's patented by Google).
Grabbing a copy of every webpage online would no longer be a neutral endeavor if Google then competes against a good many of them and has unfair knowledge of how to send traffic to their own sites. (assuming they don't bypass natural ranking at all which they tend to do)
I don't like how far away from Search Google is getting. Even if the patent is just to inform webmasters of where there is a lack of content that very act alters the web, not something a search engine should be doing if they want to maintain any sort of neutrality.
Pages that would have been will never be if Google is allowed to influence the web by releasing this data and if they go ecommerce they should have to in order to remain fair imo.
I'm getting ahead of myself but the issues are real and history suggests I'll see Google ecommerce offers on page one AND google ecommerce offers on regularly ranked pages that out-SEO all of us. Helpful search could die with this, replaced with search for profit that competes against ecommerce sites instead of helping people find them.