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It’s Not About Search Anymore, It’s About Deals

By - January 14, 2012

As in, who gets the best deal, why didn’t that deal go down, how do I get a deal, what should the deal terms be?

This is of course in the air given the whole Google+ fracas, but it’s part of a larger framework I’m thinking through and hope to write about. On the issue of “deals,” however, a little sketching out loud seems worthwhile.

Go read this piece: Facebook+Spotify: An ‘Unfair, Insider, Anti-Competitive’ Relationship…

It’s a common lament: A small developer who feels boxed out by whoever got the sweet deal. In this case, it’s on Facebook, but we all know it happens inside the Apple store as well (whoever gets top billing, gets sales).  Closed ecosystems controlled by one company create this dynamic. There’s only so much real estate, and the owner of the land gets to determine the most profitable use of it.

Google now appears to be acting the same way, cutting Google+ a “deal” so to speak, giving it the best real estate for all manner of search queries. That’s not how search was supposed to work. Search was supposed to reflect the ongoing conversation happening across all aspects of the Internet. If you were that small developer, you worked hard to get your service noticed on the web, and as it picked up a following, search would notice, start raising your profile in search results, and a virtuous loop began. Is that concept now dead?

Search isn’t supposed to be about cutting a deal to get your company’s wares to the top of relevant searches. In my reporting over the past week, most of my source conversations have been about failed deals – between Google and Facebook, or Google and Twitter. But search is supposed to be about showing the best results to consumers based on objective (or at least defensible and understandable) parameters, parameters *unrelated to the search engine itself.*

With Google Search Plus Your World (shortened by many to SPYW, which is just laughably bad as an acronym), it’s rather hard to tell the two apart anymore. When I wrote last year that Google = Google+, I meant it from a brand perspective. I didn’t realize how literal it’s become. Because with SPYW, all I’m getting is Google+ at the top of my results. I know I can turn SPYW off, and I probably will. Or, I can bail on Google+ altogether. But there is a real conundrum in doing so – more on that in my next post.

Some are arguing that search is no longer about results anymore, and that for years search has pretty much been about paid inclusion anyway (either paid through SEO,  or paid through ads, which increasingly don’t look like ads). That now, Google is focusing entirely on getting you an answer, and surfacing that answer right there on the results page. Perhaps the “right answer” is best found through cutting deals.

But I hope not. Because for me, search is a journey, not an answer.

This SPYW story has raised so many questions, it’s rather hard to sort through them all. I guess I’ll just keep writing till I feel like the writing’s done…

Related:

Hitler Is Pissed About Google+

Google Responds: No,That’s Not How Facebook Deal Went Down (Oh, And I Say: The Search Paradigm Is Broken)

Compete To Death, or Cooperate to Compete?

Twitter Statement on Google+ Integration with Google Search

Search, Plus Your World, As Long As It’s Our World

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10 thoughts on “It’s Not About Search Anymore, It’s About Deals

  1. [...] It’s Not About Search Anymore, It’s About Deals [...]

  2. It seems like they’re doing something right though, everyone’s finally talking about Google+. And they’re pissing a lot of people/companies off. Maybe that’s what it’s going to take to get a deal done. 

    By the way, do you like the comment system on Google+ better than Disqus? Are embeddable G+ posts next? And is this the end of Disqus? Unless, they adapt…

    • Anonymous says:

      No, I don’t like it better. And I prefer a comment system that is independent from a major platform.

  3. TrustThemNot says:

    SPYW (Search Plus You ) = SPY  – aptly named. Google will spy on you even more as if holding your IP and searches for 18 months, analytics  on 50% of all websites, Chrome browsers that acts as spyware and Adsense wasn’t enough. Nixon’s dream. Google can tell even who posted what comment by matching the time of the comment with the time their their Analytics javascript (or G+ button, adsense etc) was called.

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  5. [...] made a point that unsettled me (in a good way). Google is not about search anymore, he wrote. "It's about deals." That's not an open Web. That's a [...]

  6. [...] a point that unsettled me (in a good way). Google is not about search anymore, he wrote. “It’s about deals.” That’s not an open Web. That’s a [...]