My friend Jeremiah Owyang has been focusing on the sharing/collaborative economy for the last two years. In my time at Airbnb I hosted him a number of times at our HQ, and had some interesting conversations with him. Today he wrote a blog post on how Google is entering the collaborative economy in a big way. Of course, as a Google watcher I’ve been following this story, and see some similarities between the way Google is using Android as a platform to hook companies into a new service. For free, for now… See below my comment on JO’s blog post. My earlier post on Google, self driving cars and Waze is also somewhat relevant in this whole discussion.
I see the extension of brands into Google Now more like an advertising play. It will become a way for Google to monetize Android, as it’s now given away for free.
Let me explain; Google has been notorious for introducing new services for free, killing off whole industries. Look at companies like Shopping.com or other price comparison sites. By introducing Google shopping search, for free, these sites became irrelevant when the intro was combined with a de-ranking of these sites in the natural search results. As soon as Google had eliminated the competitive thread of these companies in the shopping comparison space, Google introduced pay-to-play in Google shopping.
With a prominent position at the top of the SERP’s for any ecommerce query, the service is secured with a decent amount of web traffic.
Same will happen with the integration of Google Now. Brands integrate their inventory for free, at the moment, where Google will send them a lot of “free” traffic.
Here is a piece on the WSJ about it: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/20…
Most notable paragraph:
“The move to bring third parties into Google Now is aimed at making to tool more useful, and thus more popular among users. But it will also bring to Google Now, for the first time, prompts to spend money. For now, Google is not charging the third-party providers for the referral traffic.”
Keywords you need to pay attention to here are:
- more popular among users
- for now, Google is not charging
Classic move, build the audience first, make companies addicted to the “free” traffic, start charging companies for the traffic once audience is big enough. I expect it will eat up all your mobile SEO traffic, and will be pay-2-play in the future… They teach your users to circumvent your app, and go to Google first, which is their problem right now as Google is lagging on mobile IMHO. Habits are hard to build, but as soon as these are established, habits are also very hard to break! As a brand, putting your content into Google Now seems like a smart thing to do, as you get a short term boost in direct App traffic, for free! However, long term Google will become the tax man, collecting for every visit into your app taking its cut, completely shutting down your mobile “free” SEO traffic. Big mistake!
What do you think? Where will this move from Google lead to?