I have just returned from the ILM BIA/Kelsey conference in LA where the great and the good of the surviving Yellow Book industry meet to discuss the demise of their industry and figure out how they can construct a digital life raft to get at least the women and children away from the Sinking Yellow Titanic before the boilers explode. In any event it was good to catch up with a bunch of great folks and look ahead. Most of what was discussed has already been heavily covered in these pages but I found the Google session especially interesting. It’s always interesting to attempt to read the runes of any Google spokesperson. The focus on telling you what you already know (but with great slides) they assure you of your importance and how great it would be to work together. This is almost entirely unlike the actual experience of working with the big “G” but let’s not let details get in the way. The Kelsey conference is very hip and allows the audience to tweet in questions rather than call for the microphone. I took advantage of that opportunity and tweeted the following question to the Google Guy.
“Search is growing rapidly away from desktop yet Google doesn’t syndicate beyond AdSense, is Google missing an opportunity?”
The background to my question is simple: The past decade or so has seen Google establish a hegemony over desktop search. People go to Google.com to search and they experience AdSense contextual ads on web pages as they navigate the web. From a publishers point of view AdSense is not an especially valuable product and it’s pretty much impossible to get hold of a full blown Google powered search/ad feed. Google understandably wants to retain all of the revenue they can, which is exactly what happens when people search on Google. If Google syndicates advertisers they have to share revenue and be cautious that the quality of search remains high. All that is changing as mobile rapidly catches up with desktop. Search is now happening in mobile Apps and on mobile browsers and the current Google offering just don’t fit well….hence my question.
The answer I got was fascinating. First the Google Guy thought long and hard…he stared into the middle distance and gained some time by saying how good the question was. I hesitate to suggest that he was squirming…but it was close. Then he made it clear that Google doesn’t pre-announce products so he couldn’t really say much (which in of itself is saying a lot). He then went on to comment on how important emerging search sources are and how important they are to Google for growth.
That sounds to me a lot like Google has a new search and ad syndication product probably optimized for mobile to allow them to get a larger piece of that opportunity and reward high quality publishers for their traffic. You heard it here first.