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It's Not Fair, But Google, You Are A Media Company

By - January 30, 2008

Sorry, it’s just true. IWantMedia: David Eun: Google Won’t Become a Media Company.

It’s not fair in that I am on the road and can’t write my full defense of this. But I understand why Google claims to not be a media company, in terms of not being, say, the New York Times. But…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t threaten the core underpinnings of what makes a great media company. Is that a bad thing? No. But it’s not accurate to say Google isn’t a threat.

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  • SorenG

    Surprising they keep expecting people to believe that same story line, just because it worked in the past.

    I am not sure all the legal agreements one signs in joining Orkut or youtube, but it seems quite a bit to claim, “We don’t produce or own content.”

    At the least, they own the content of the Google lecture series and other things they produce, I would think. Such claims seems to only set them up, but someone who knows much more than i do would need to dive in further. Just seems like quite a claim.

  • Daryl Tay

    Google going into mobile and tv and they’re not a media company? I’m finding that hard to believe!

    Daryl @ http://uniquefrequency.wordpress.com

  • http://www.exoticfilipina.com Filipina Gal

    Google may be perceived as a Media company, because of YouYube and other Google applications. However, it was started as a search engine company and even today it has many other business plans which are technology oriented – like the energy sector.

  • stone

    The acquisition of YouTube sealed their fate as a media company. Only their arrogance keeps them in the press with denials. Now they are launching Knol — which will be orginal content by topic/category. Just because technology might be used to search or organize information doesn’t mean you’re not a media company.

  • courtney benson

    I think that Google will not stand still in a particular area (Search, Media, Energy). They are a technology company and have the funds to become whatever they want. They can say whatever they want, but Media certainly appears to be a strategic focus of the management team.

  • Lisa

    Would someone please explain to me the overwhelming need for people to distinguish if Google is a media company or a technology company? What is this preoccupation with classification? We know what they do. What does a label add?

  • Desire Athow

    Google is a media company, but not a traditional one. First and before everything else, it is a conduit for information. A media organisation like BBC has more to do with creating content inhouse. Google depends on its users to generate content (Youtube and soon Knol). Bottomline is that you will NEVER get something like Dr Who, Strictly come dancing or Walking with Dinosaurs from Google Youtube.

  • http://www.blackmailr.com/smr whitneymcn

    I’d say that Google is fundamentally an information company. The New York Times, to use your example, is a newspaper company that has finally realized that it needs to become an information company. Totally agree that some conflict is inevitable.

  • John Mc

    Google does Produce content. They do not create Content. WE create Google’s content for them. :)
    Ref. Princeston Wordnet

    produce, bring forth (bring out for display) “The proud father produced many pictures of his baby”; “The accused brought forth a letter in court that he claims exonerates him”

  • John Mc

    Google does Produce content. They do not create Content. WE create Google’s content for them. :)
    Ref. Princeston Wordnet

    produce, bring forth (bring out for display) “The proud father produced many pictures of his baby”; “The accused brought forth a letter in court that he claims exonerates him”

  • SorenG

    If Google does not create content, any chance you know who created the content here: https://adwords.google.com/

  • Mike Mothner

    I agree that Google, even with its partnership with YouTube, is in all respects an information company. Information can come in many forms and Google is the epitome of a company that takes advantage of all means of information transfer to best suite its users. I don’t feel that labeling Google as a media company, however, does it justice. It’s clearly much more than that and as mentioned earlier, has the potential to pretty much be whatever it wants to be.

  • Rich LeFurgy

    Google makes money from advertising, which makes it a media company. The “we’re not a media company” smokescreen is thought to be necessary in order to do partnerships and to help keep the engineering psyche intact, but until they start charging for software, they won’t be a technology company, and they won’t be an information company until they start charging for information. Follow the money.

  • http://www.aseidman.com Ariel Seidman

    What really matters is how potential hires view the company. If they view it as a media company then they will not attract great engineers and product people, while if they view it as a technology company whose business relies on media/advertising then they will attract great lots of great technical and product talent.

  • JG

    Rich L. has a good point, about how advertising makes Google a media company. As a follow up to that, I recently came across this commentary that points out Google’s ability to reject whatever advertising it wants to (also the subject of a Battelle post a few days ago) means that Google is constitutionally similar to newspapers. In the eyes of the law. And what are newspapers, if not media companies?

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

  • http://small-businesses.us nmw

    I guess both sides can be argued.

    Since they produce(d) a product/service (their software/algorithms) that allows people to receive information, it could be argued that they are a media company — basically, simply because this algorithm functions like a “channel” through which the information can pass.

    However, since in some cases Google actually prevents information from passing through the channel (such as the fact that an inordinate amount of people have linked to George Bush’s biography with the term “miserable failure”), they are the opposite of a media company — indeed: they actually censor information.

    But it would also be wrong to say that many other media companies do not prevent information to pass through, so I guess that they could be characterized as a more/less “run of the mill” media company (rather than as an “ideal” media company).

    Beyond that, I would say that it might be neat if they could release a “Google cave” where people could go “inside” and debate philosophical questions and stuff like that.

    :) nmw

    ps/btw: in the future, I expect the registrant of miserable-failure.com would tend to be the expert on the topic of commercial miserable failures, miserable-failure.org might be an organisation that deals with miserable failures, and perhaps other country codes might have slightly different nuanced perceptions of the concept “miserable failure”. Note that a community network / networking organization focusing on the idea of “miserable failure” (whether or not the idea is “real”) still doesn’t exist — maybe Mr. Bush could register the domain name, create a support group and also earn some money from advertising? (ah, that reminds me: I always thought that when Google gave up on search that they might try to become an advertising agency — but then again: what were those four things Eric Schmidt mentioned a year or two ago?)

  • JG

    I just had the chance to read the interview in a little more detail. This question/answer is a hoot:

    Eun (Google): For one reason or another, there is still disinformation and misperception out there. We’re trying to correct it.

    IWM: What is the cause of these misperceptions about Google?

    Eun (Google): I think for some people it’s self-created. For others, maybe it’s just ill-informed opinion, or things that they hear around the water cooler. I’m not quite sure. If I had a better idea, we’d get closer to the root of it. Some of it may just be fear about what could happen if somehow we decided to get into the content producing space, which again is unfounded.

    Um, is this guy from Google serious? This is how he defines being a media company? It is a company that is in the “content producing space”? And he wonders why there is misperception? And he blames it all on us, saying that I/you/we “self-create” the misperception? Or that I/you/we hold “ill-informed” opinions?

    Did he ever stop and think that maybe Google is at the source of its own misperceptions, that maybe some “opinions” about itself that Google “self-creates” is causing the rest of us to scratch our heads?

    Case in point: The way they self-define what “media company” means. They define it as a company that “produces content”. Tolman Geffs defines it as a company that “brings content to audiences“. John Battelle defines it as a company that “creates experiences for consumers“.

    Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, Google has got the definition wrong, and not the rest of us? And rather than being so quick to accuse the rest of us of being ill-informed and self-misunderstanding-created, that they might actually take responsibility for some of the things they themselves are ill-informed about?

    I am all worked up now. Huff.

  • JG

    One more thing to get worked up about, while I’m in rant mode:

    Eun (Google) says: Some of it may just be fear about what could happen if somehow we decided to get into the content producing space, which again is unfounded.

    So let us accept for a moment Google’s own self-created idea of what a media company is, i.e. a company that “produces content”.

    The implication, then, by claiming that Google is not a media company is that they do not produce content. Right?

    So then I assume that the ranked list of SERPs is not really content? And since this is not something that Google claims to have produced, they should have no problem with me scraping that data and using it in my own search engine, or using it to do metasearch, right? Because it is not really content they have produced, and therefore not content that they would try to claim or assert any sort of ownership over, right?

    Oh, wait. Never mind.

    And Google wonders why there are misperceptions out there.

  • stone

    Looks like the non-media company is running out of gas.

  • http://media.net.in nmw

    I just did a little experiment: I did a two-word (non-phrase) search for search blog:

    Google ranks battellemedia.com #2 (after blogsearch.google.com)

    Live doesn’t have battellemedia.com on the first page of results

    Then I did a single-word search for searchblog:

    Google ranks battellemedia.com #1

    Live ranks battellemedia.com #1

    Of the other 9 results:

    5/9 on Google contained the string in the domain name or in the subdomain.

    3/9 on Live contained the string in the domain name or in the subdomain — and 1 result matched the authors/searchblog directory of federatedmedia.net.

    Now it seems quote clear to me that the ranking algorithms are a little different. Without a doubt, battellemedia.com ranks for the term searchblog (but so does searchblog.com — quite “according to” the above “miserable-failure” hypothesis). But: how come they are nonetheless so different?

    I also have a hypothesis for this: Each so-called “search engine” is actually somewhat like the old-fashioned “abstracting / indexing services” — and they each have their particular coverage and/or emphasis. So perhaps Google will emphasize youtube videos more than other videos (this morning I tweeted that Google’s video search was unable to find a video of last night’s democratic debate! [see twitter.com/nmw/statuses/665642422 and my follow-up at twitter.com/nmw/statuses/665651502 ;])

    Old-fashioned indexing/abstrating services were also sometimes published by the selfsame publishers as the publishers of the journals covered, so this perhaps should be surprising.

    What is surprising is that Google is in a state of denial that it is in fact a media company.

    :) nmw

  • http://owns.info nmw

    OMG! How Long has THIS been going on?!?

    see >> twitter.com/nmw/statuses/683574582

  • http://footnote.info nmw

    sorry, I was a little brief above: since when is YouTube = ReutersVideo ?!?

    See http://news.google.com/news?q=Google , the second result (“Video: Google courts Yahoo”) is attributed to reutersvideo, but provides no link to Reuters — and it’s actually a youtube.com video!

    :O

  • http://ITne.ws nmw

    I’ve just now posted some documentation describing how Google News displayed YouTube Results, attributing them with the byline “reutersvideo”, and thereby NOT including the Reuters story in the Google News index (“Google courts Yahoo”) — see http://ITne.ws

    :) nmw

  • http://www.kalekapi.org kale kapı

    Now it seems quote clear to me that the ranking algorithms are a little different. Without a doubt, battellemedia.com ranks for the term searchblog (but so does searchblog.com — quite “according to” the above “miserable-failure” hypothesis). But: how come they are nonetheless so different? +1