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Google Beyond Google+ — Five Areas Google Could Soon Be Competing In

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After looking at some of the lesser publicized recent moves by Google, in this post I want to turn my attention to other areas Google is already, or I think might soon, point their gaze. Similarly, Steve Rubel has also taken a look at Three Key Things Google Is Doing While We Focus On Google+. It’s a really smart post, I strongly recommend you take a read. In it he draws some interesting conclusions that reinforce my thinking on areas I think Google may move into. My thinking is predicated on Google’s “Search and Social” pincer movement. By staking out strong bases in both those areas, Google can now corral important areas, some big, some small but crucial, as they continue to gobble up people’s online time.  These areas include:

1. Music

Digital music is clearly a huge area, from iTunes and Amazon to Pandora and the recently introduced to America, Spotify. Well, Google isn’t going to be left out of this, Google Music is currently in beta.

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

And yes, it works on your Android mobile device.

2. Influence Ranking

The +1 button is gaining adoption across the web quickly. This makes an easy entry point for Google to create their own influencer ranking to rival Klout and PeerIndex. Once people like Rober Scoble, Chris Brogan and Ashton Kutcher realize that posting content to Google+ and getting +1s will significantly affect their Googlefluence (yeah, I’m totally trademarking that), Google can own the important online influence category. I think many people would see a Googlefluence score as being more credible than the others (and of course, other people would not). In all, they’ll create a virtuous circle in which people will be using Google tools and platforms to increase their scores.

3. Social TV

If I was GetGlue, I would be worried. With GoogleTV, Google’s search will be complemented by the social aspects of Google+. The next step is to add a further social layer a la GetGlue.  Interacting with shows and brands via a GoogleGlue platform would provide Google with a rich data mine for advertisers.

4. Location Based Services – Google Places

Foursquare, Gowalla and even Facebook Places also seem vulnerable to me. Google Places just recently removed 3rd party reviews, putting a focus on Google-generated content. Will Google+ and Google Places see some integration soon?

5. Automotive

Between Google maps and their high quality mobile navigation, along with music and search and Android connection, a Ford Sync-like service could easily be rolled out to all auto manufacturers.

When you add all these together, you can see Google really owning the content and connections people create and have across a wide swath.  I didn’t even touch upon more business or institutional areas like medical or insurance records, finance, education or auctions to name a few.

Facebook launched a damp squib earlier this month with their product launch 2011 press conference, and I think they’ve really got their work cut out for them. Google might not have their auteur but they’ve got a lot of really smart people and the drive and focus of the Terminator. Don’t bet against them, at least not right now.

 

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Social Media Behavioral Change: Goodbye MyYahoo! and iGoogle

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For at least five or six years, when I first jumped online my homepage was set to either a MyYahoo! or iGoogle page. Recently however I find myself quickly clicking away from my iGoogle page. In thinking about this, I believe there are a couple of different factors involved with this behavioral shift.

First, the leading browsers now have “most recently visited page” features that act like a bookmark, allowing you to quickly get to sites you are often on. For someone like me who operates from a daily base of several pages, this is a quick and easy way to open them into multiple tabs. One of the key features for me of iGoogle was this bookmarking feature, and since my main computer is a laptop, I’m using the same computer 95% of the time.

Another feature of iGoogle was the ability to customize news feeds with widgets of just what you wanted. Recent enhancements in Google News make going directly to that site a better option for me now. Not only can you customize your feed, but the game mechanics integration adds an element of fun into the mix.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, I used iGoogle to pull in feeds of various websites and blogs I wanted to follow. I’ve found I’m travelling regularly to blogs less and less. I still read blog postings quite often, but the way I find content is quite different. Rather than looking at my iGoogle page with the same 10 blogs to see if they have a new post I’m interested in, I find content via links from Twitter, Facebook and Google+ now. If content is good, no matter where it comes from, I’m more likely to see it now.

Were/are you a user of MyYahoo! or iGoogle? How are you using it, or why aren’t you using it any more? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Beyond Google Plus: What’s next for Google?

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Google is everywhere, or soon will be

This is going to be the first of a two-part piece on Google beyond Google+.  The last few weeks have seen Google dominate the social media news landscape with the launch of their social network, Google+. Google’s recent revamp of Google News got a lot less attention, but I think was also very interesting. Now, some more recent news from the company helps to shed light on where they are headed. In this post I’ll examine these recent announcements. In my next post I’ll put forth my opinion on where else I think Google will set their sights.

First up, Google credit cards. According to BusinessWeek:

Google is offering a select number of smaller advertisers a new way to pay for online search ads: a credit card that can only be used to pay for AdWords, the Internet search giant’s keyword advertising program.

 

While this certainly seems smart in the short run, the long-term implications are interesting here. Does Google use this as a test program for a move to a PayPal like online payment system, or something bigger? Does Google make this card widely available to consumers and bundle it somehow with One Pass and Checkout?  Online payment, and mobile payment, will continue to be growth areas moving forward, expect Google to have an answer here.

The second piece of “news” is about Google’s print publication for advertisers, Think Quarterly. I put news in quotes because although the New York Times piece on it ran this weekend, I’ve been following the Think Quarterly Twitter account for a couple of weeks now. The Times piece also alludes to Google using the book to promote itself as a nod to a “slow data” movement, something I’ve mentioned in the past, using the term slow social. But more important than the medium, is the message. Think Quarterly is aimed at the same people as the Google credit cards, ad buyers.

Where else is Google going? I’ll take a look at five other categories I think Google may (should?) venture into.

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Five Tips For a Better Beta-Tester Strategy

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Are you a blogger? On Twitter a lot? Have a Klout score above 50? If you answered yes to any of these questions then chances are you’ve had the opportunity to be a beta-tester recently. I certainly have. In fact, I’ve taken part in beta (or even alpha!) testing quite a few times recently. Too many times to tell you the truth. The whole process has been co-opted by the gamification craze. Now, getting to be a beta-tester is just a scam to build buzz for some new platform of dubious value.

To be sure, some of the platforms are good: Google+SpotifyPercolate and Voyurl all are unique offerings that have real value. But for every one of those, I’ve also been a ‘lucky early adopter’ for things like ScovilleGlitch and Star.me. But the value of these sites really isn’t the issue, it’s the practice of offering people “exclusive access” to the sites by asking people to be beta-testers. Like badges, beta-testing is game theory being wielded by people who don’t have the experience or skill set to use it properly.

Too often I find myself forgetting what I signed up for, or why I signed up for it. What’s missing from many of these operations is the social part of social media.  Yes, I’ll receive the occasional email, reminding me to check out the site, or to post or publish something. But what’s missing is the “why.” What’s the purpose for this? Who’s behind this project and why should I be supporting it, and them. What do they really know about me? Have they made any effort to discover what makes me tick? Have they tried to connect me with other beta-testers?

So, moving forward, here are five suggestions I have before you invite me to be a beta-tester:

1. Send me an easy to search, easy to read, guide book. Too many times I’m confused by how or why I should do something. You’ve been living with this thing for God knows how long, so it all makes sense to you. But it doesn’t to us. Help us out.

2. Make feedback easy. As I play around inevitably some things won’t work, or I won’t understand them. Let me tell you about them easily. Google+ did that extremely well.

3. Respond quickly, with a real human. If I’m struggling, reach out to help me. Not with a automated response, but with a real person I can engage with.

4. Set up another place, off-site where I can engage with other beta-testers. Some people will “get it” immediately and they can be of tremendous service to others in need of help. Let us chat, gripe and exult about your creation. This would be a great resource for you.

5. Make sure you explain very clearly why this idea deserves my time.The guys behind Voyurl felt there needed to be more data transparency and they state that clearly right up front. Ok, I get that, and want to support something like that.

 

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Google+ Won’t Kill Facebook or Twitter, Google Has a Bigger Agenda

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All your online are belong to us.

One of the effects of Google+’s controlled roll out, primarily to tech geeks and Social Media nerds, was an avalanche of “Google+ will be a (fill in the blank) killer” posts.  Twitter – dead! Facebook – dead! Twitter and Facebook – dead! I’ve tried to hold off on such pronouncements because, A) that’s the easy way out, and B) nobody knows what effects exactly Google+ is going to have on the online media habits of millions of people. Let’s not forget, while 10 million users in just a couple of weeks is impressive, it’s still a relatively small sample size.

Others have looked to dissect Google+, such as Ben Kunz, writing for Businessweek.com, who hailed Google+ for its lack of game mechanics (a point which I, and others, disagreed with in the comments section). Tom Moradpour went the linkbait route with his Five Fatal Flaws of Google+ post. Personally, I think it’s a bit premature to call them fatal flaws because we don’t have enough data to say they will ultimately derail the platform, and nothing is a fatal flaw when you’re always in beta mode. I’m sure Google will make the necessary adjustments if they see problems and hear from users. Jason Falls, a voice of sanity in all this reminds us all to calm down and keep things in perspective regarding Google+.

Rather than examine Google+ on the micro level, my thoughts lean towards the macro.  Personal preference will determine whether you like Google+ more than Twitter, but when you pull out and look at the larger picture, the advantages of Google (not Google+) seem to be mounting and I’m not sure I can see someone else there who can bring the social firepower to the table to challenge Google.

While I think Google+ is a fine platform I find myself gravitating towards it because of the little red box in the upper right-hand corner. I see it on Google+, I see it in Gmail, I see it in Google News (which has just added some intriguiging game mechanics) and I wouldn’t be surpised if I see it on YouTube in the near future.  Google is going to own my online experience not because all their offerings are superior – though they are all of a very high quality – they are going to own my online experience because they offer me a connected experience of very high quality offerings.

Take a look at this terrific photo essay from Vincent Wong in which he describes What G+ is Really About. According to Vincent, Google+ isn’t so much a threat to Facebook or Twitter (at least not right now) as it is a threat to Microsoft and even Apple because of what Google is building. The breadth of the platforms, especially when you include Android, makes Google a nearly unavoidable part of just about everyone’s life.

 

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Guest Post: Aaron Goldman – Google’s Future is in the Palm of Your Hands

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Google’s Future is in the Palm of Your Hands

Aaron Goldman is the author of Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google. This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the book launch, which has Aaron “appearing” at 30 blogs in 10 days. More information is available at GoogleyLessons.com.

The future success of Google is no longer fixed. Literally.

The fixed web as we’ve come to call it (because, seriously, what is the opposite of mobile?) and the process for searching it and delivering ads has become a $20+ billion-a-year business for Google.

But, with each passing day, the ways we search the web and have ads delivered are changing.

In my book, Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google, I reference the following sound-byte that Google CEO Eric Schmidt dropped at a conference back in 2002….

“The mistake we always make is we assume the success in the next 10 years will be the same as the success in the last 10 years. The dominant players always get it wrong.”

Put another way, to steal a catch-phrase from VivaKi Chief Strategy and Innovation officer, Rishad Tobaccowala, “The future will not fit into the containers of the past.”

Once again, this can be interpreted quite literally.

For the past 10 years, the container we primarily used to surf the web was a computer. Today, however, more and more people are using the web on their handhelds.

As smartphone adoption increases and the devices get better and faster, Google needs to rethink the entire search and advertising experience.

When you’re on the go with a small screen, you don’t have time (or eyesight) to sift through tens (much less hundreds) of links. Nor are you likely to click on a little text ad and complete a purchase, unless it’s immediately relevant — think $1 off coffee at Starbucks.

The killer mobile search app is not even a search app. As discussed in chapter 21 of my book, it’s an “app-ssistant.”

Rather than taking you through a string of searches and results, app-ssistants take instructions like “book a trip from Chicago to New York for business” and return recommended actions like “AA flight 368 departs 8:00am, the Marriott Times Square has a king non-smoking, and reservations are available at Nobu (hah!) for 7:30pm.”

Far out, right? Not really.

App-ssistants like this exist today. One of them is Siri, which was just bought by Apple.

Based on intimate knowledge of your preferences and robust indices of digital assets (via API integration with merchants), app-ssistants change the search game from query-link-query-link-query-link-act to just query-act.

So what is Google’s play in the app-ssistant world? As I cover in the book, the Big G has a few options here…

1. Google can create a search engine to help you find the best app-ssistants. (Boring!)

2. Google can build an app-ssistant of its own. (Privacy!)

3. Google can build the infrastructure upon which app-ssistants operate — things like centralized UI’s and easy API tools for merchants. (Bingo!)

If Android is any indication, Google’s betting on option 3 but I wouldn’t count it out when it comes to the other 2.

After all, you have to hand it to Google — it remains fixated on innovation and never lets boredom or privacy stand in its way!

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Great stuff Aaron, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and insights. If you’d like to get a little more of Mr. Goldman’s thoughts, you’ve got several options:

How about a Complimentary E-Book with Googley Lessons

Or you can pick up his book, Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.


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