Search and/or Media

When the amount of information started growing exponentially on the WWW, many people felt the need of tools and environments that will help people find information on the Web. This resulted in attention to organizing all the information on the Web to make it easily available to users. Yahoo, Altavista, Infoseek, Lycos and others started with this goal. There was a period when many companies struggled with the decision whether they wanted to be a search engine or a portal. Since during the twentieth century boom of Internet, the focus was on eyeballs, it appeared that the concept of portals was winning the battle. That continued. Yahoo started considering itself a media company – it is not clear even today whether in their deep heart they feel as a technology company or a media company.

Google arrived on the stage as a search company. They clearly gave the impression that they are a technology play. Interestingly, Google’s success as a business is more due to their advertising model than due to their pagerank algorithm. And their climb in the business world continues with refinements in their ad model. So though most people – because of their roots and early emphasis – consider Google to be a Search company I am tempted to ask: Is Google a Search company?

Advertisement models consider advertisers as their customers. They have to make sure that their customers are satisfied. Their content and technology is geared to satisfy their advertisers. On the other hand, in a search company the customer is really the user who is trying to find some information. The technology in a search company is geared to make their customers – the searchers – happy.

Most evolving models in Search and related space on Internet are going towards primarily advertisement revenues. What that means is that all these products/services are going to become media companies like NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, … All these services will be for serving advertisers not the users of products and services.

Will this bring the age of ‘commercial TV’ where masses start dictating the content produced. There is a good reason that initially much of American TV and now TV all over the world is dominated by violence and sex – that is what masses want. Will the content on the Web also go in that direction? The only hope there is the effect of the long tail. The long tail is much stronger on Internet than on broadcast medium.

In any case, I can not help but keep wondering about the effect of the advertisements on the content on the Web and on the policies adopted by so called search engine. Yes, I feel that Google is becoming as much a media company as Yahoo is and Yahoo is trying to become as much a media company as FOX is. I wonder what will happen to the future of Search. Will it be just a part of media!!!

One thought on “Search and/or Media

  1. Naveen Ashish

    There is the obvious tension between the revenue providers (ads) and the consumers (end users). Companies like GoTo and Overture were skewed heavily towards the former (highest ad payer shows up highest) where seems like Google is factoring in user clicks as well.
    Certainly ads will increasing dictate ranking and what is ultimately served, but I think a basic functionality requirement (for search technology) will always remain/increase.

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