There is nothing quite like a birthday to make you pause and reflect. I have one myself later this week…it’s a big one and I’m in vigorous denial. Google just hit the big .one-two. today…an even dozen. It’s odd to think that I have been in search almost as long as Google…..not with their storied success, but I have been working with them and way back when even competing with them. There was a time (not one remembered by most in our business) when there were more than one search results provider. Back in the day if you ran a destination website you would actually pay someone like Google or Inktomi (Ouch that dates me) or FAST to deliver search results to your site, as I recall the typical price was 65 cents per thousand results returned.
The Internet was much smaller then and having even half a billion pages indexed seemed daunting. Back then most people made money from sites by slathering them with display ads. We were all working on much more narrow pipe which made search a slow and miserable experience. Also most search results were simply garbage. Google has always played a long game….they have had the vision and the funding to stick with it rather than take the fast buck. So in a time when everyone else served bad search covered in slow ads they were serving just search…no ads…a larger and better quality search at that.
I vividly remember a meeting in what was probably late ’99 when the guys of GoTo (remember Goto.com?) explained how out of something close to desperation they were offering very light text ads targeted against search, and they were charging on an auction bid basis not a flat rate. It was a ground breaking idea which took off like a rocket. They then morphed into Overture Advertising then the then mighty mighty Yahoo acquired Overture and became the place to monetize search traffic.
It was an incredibly interesting and challenging time to be a search guy. At one point the company I was working for at the time was powered by Yahoo then Google, then both, then just Yahoo then neither of them…all in a six week period. You never knew quite what was going to hit the fan next. It was a titanic fight, one fought across multiple continents and Google won pretty much all of it. The battle for some territories (like China and Japan) is ongoing. However the reality is that if you are typing in the roman alphabet you very much more likely to get you results from Google than any other place.
We at eLocal Listing are small (but growing) fish in a very large sea of search in which Google owns most of the ocean. We focus on getting our customers which are mostly local businesses or the local locations of national advertisers found in local search. If you ask any of them where they want to be found they will invariably say Google. They want to find themselves when they “Google” for their product or service.
Google is now a verb….if you can get your company into the lexicon you have done pretty well. They are a vast, god like power standing astride our society and a colossus in the emerging world of online advertising. They achieved all this in a dozen years. It’s amazing. Their ambitions are endless..but their methods are consistent.
They are a marketing phenom. They build the coolest stuff just which works and is focused on the end user not the bottom line. I would never ever bet against them, but even they don’t always hit it out the park. There are dozens of examples of projects which they sunk millions of dollars and man hours into which went nowhere, did you ever use Google Wave…it was very cool and they killed it recently). Some say they missed the social band wagon and Face Book may eat their lunch….but I’m not betting on that either.
One thing we can be sure of is that the folk up in Mountain View will be enjoying one heck of a great birthday. I have attended many “Google Dance” parties over the years and those guys sure know how to have a great party.
Happy Twelfth Birthday Google . Curious about the clever, but somewhat annoying Google logo today .just .Google. it!