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Her answer, albeit eloquent, can be reduced to this:
We do know certain things about the user like where they may be coming from and "we ask them to provide their location before a search".
When compared to Y and in the face of necessary local consumer adoption of the new tools, rich local data aggreation, and ad serving, isn't Google vulnerable?
Google, more than any other company is focusing 100% of its resources ($$$) on finding things and improving how it performs search. Just this week they announced the start of audio and video indexing. About a month ago they also announced Google print which is an effort to index anything and everything written in books. They already index catalogs as well.
All this, I believe, is the foundation for what is slowly becoming an entirely new experience when it comes to search (including local search). Imagine searching for a local coffee shop and finding not just business listings and web crawled content but also radio and tv commercials, or even local news stories mentioning various coffee shops!. If google can pull that off they'll take the lead.
I don't think anyone can truly own the user. Yes, Yahoo has a larger user community today but opinion content can only go so far. If Google lets people find these other types of rich content, then users will go there.
I agree, one can never underestimate the capabilities of Google. Especially from an innovation (or acquisition of innovation standpoint). You bring up examples of G innovation. Other good recent local examples include Keyhole and SMS - both amazing.
Notwithstanding such innovation the issue that i am trying to stress is one of *ad serving*.
Ad serving effectiveness overtime will require Google to acquire user information. Right now for example, throughout Yahoo, we are buying the following target layers: 1. age filters 2. behavioral - person previously visited this yahoo section in the last 30 days etc. 3. geography 4. context 5. Income, 6.Sex, and others are available. And the inventory delivers period.
We have only seen the geographic portion of this targeting within *search* which is blessed with the search query target. We undoubtely will begin to see other forms of targeting in search - because it is better. Yahoo will be first. This inventory will be better for ad buyers and more valuable to Yahoo. New behavioral/personalized engines (Y already in beta) and social networking community building will thrust this new inventory targeting to the forefront. All based on user data aggregation.
Yahoo has 8 years of data building behind them and user generated content muscle. Google has no clue who I am, even after 5 years of use.
IMO, this will slow G way down as internet ad spending matures.
<added> clearly, as a search engine only, G is concentrating on growing its contextual third party distribution network. And their contextual network is already the largest in the world. Yet, splitting the ad dollar, and serving less targeted, contextual advertisements off search seems to be at a competitive disadvantage to owning the dollar and serving the best ads (from an ad buyer perspective (--junky junky contextual ring--) ).
And since we are talking about local here, recently seeing Y local begin the effective aggregation of rich user based business content, so easily, through the new "enhance" listing business profiles, just rings the bell for me once again. Thoughts?
organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful
IMO, Google simply doesn't want to be associated with the first incarnation of portals.
As for Y's head start, it is a very good point. However, G will most likely make up the lost ground. By launching more features such as Gmail and Groups to the public, Google will exponentially grow the number of registered users. Once that data is connected with each user's toolbar and desktop seach data, who knows what targeting methods Google will develop.
I would look for Google to counter Yahoo's business listings, possibly as part of their deal with Bellsouth. How else are the YP salesmen going to sell Adwords to businesses w/o an online presence? I could see it being a free service for advertisers that sign on to use locally targeted Adwords. I would think that would be a much more attractive model for the average local business.
You put forth effective points to the question of Googles' current market position, but i question the outlook over the long-term.
>>1) Yahoo has limited inventory and
...and google has a loosely configured network of third-party publishers.
AdSense contributed 50% of Goolge's overall revenue in Q3(04). AlanS, this is a contextual network at the end of the day. And one should naturally expect the 50% contextual rev to rise as Google looses pure search marketshare over the next few years, while growing its contextual network.
>>2) Google users (while maybe not as well identified as Yahoo users) use Google when showing "intent" which makes keyword targeting highly effective.
Search is an effective advertising vehicle yes. But see #1, as *context and intent* are two words that are hard to swallow when standing together. - *context and behavior, demographics, and geographics* well, that is more digestable.
>>Google is already earning much more profit on its ad sales than Yahoo is.
True. But at least Yahoo owns and continues to invest in *their* inventory and *their* user. As competition further enters the contextual space, Y included, and more favorable rev share models arrive, it is then that i would rather own my inventory and the user. it is then that the eight years of relationship building, community building, user data, user generated content, and DIVERSIFICATION will serve to promote stability and staying power.
>>Even if Yahoo starts to deliver all these multiple layers of targeting I still think that the costs associated with this type of targeting are rather high.
True. But the prices can and will go down. Especially as further data aggregation, ad serving technology, and the marketplace at large, provides for and demands such.
>>How reliable are these measures anyway?
Based on user generated profile data - Very.
>>Even if that inventory is not as highly targeted as Yahoo's it meets a demand.
No doubt. I am talking about long-term disadvantages though.
>>Also, I bet Google knows a lot more about you and me than we think. Gmail, desktop search, and they know what websites we look at (adsense).. I don't think we're as anonymous as we think
Maybe Google *is* a portal in disguise:/
Maybe when it comes clean, it will be able to innovate from an ad serving standpoint and publically acknowledge and invest in understanding their users. Because context and distribution will only get this multibillion dollar darling so far.
AlanS, when next year Google plays cathup and buys up some Insider Pages, City Search, or some more/other type of Orkut social networking/ user generated community/ technology etc., and they use it serve ads based upon aggregated user based profiles, will we be able to call them a portal then?
"We are search engine, not a portal".
Internet trends, particularly from a community, specialization, and ad serving standpoint, are working counter to what I currently see as Google's public positioning. The changes that they need to make are the very changes the provides Y its comparitive strengths. Beyond simply liking to speculate, I would love for someone over there to acknowledge that. Then again, I did say speculate:/