Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Google Does Content Deals that Complement Its Core Mission

While yesterday's Wall Street Journal article emphasized Google's efforts to make nice with publishers and media companies as a key component of its growth strategy, it's clear that it will be through a Google-shaped view of the world regardless. An interesting example of this can be found in today's Mercury News story on Google's use of ValPak local coupon data from Cox Enterprises in Google Maps. Pull up a local search for services such as car washes and ValPak coupons available in that area will be displayed (disclosure: I tried this using the example in the MN story, but darned if I can figure out yet where the stuff displays. But it's there, we're told.). This is going to be fairly emblematic of the kinds of deals that Google will be striking in many instances with premium content sources: contextual uses that add value to Google's key strengths and that generally avoid looking too much like any other portal on the Web. With players like Comcast going after the Yahoo look-alike market, that's largely a losing proposition for Google.

Getting syndicated content to work well in a Google-shaped world may not always result in content products and services that look familiar to suppliers, but in the race to get content into its most valuable contexts Google's emphasis on unique tools that provide a way of relating to content that is easily re-contextualized via mashups and other tools is going to provide publishers with an important boost in their efforts to become relevant to increasingly source-agnostic audiences. As content brands change to become something that content does for a person rather than what content is it becomes more important for publishers to understand how to play with Google to stay with the shifting focus of their audiences.
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