I want to take this at face value. But that’s not my inclination. Talking to Google in the next few days, and as usual, I am sure there will be clarity there. But for now, why am I skeptical? Because, well, I’ve negotiated with AOL. And talked to a lot of folks who have. And Microsoft pushed hard to win this, very hard. I find it difficult to believe Parsons and Miller settled for “help us get smarter about how to be indexed by you, Google. Thanks very much.”
Watch the language on the Onebox, and also, the organic crawl. When Google says: “Indexing more of AOL’s content. Our goal is to organize all of the world’s information. When we say “all the world’s information,” this includes AOL’s. We’re going to work with the webmasters at AOL — just as we work with webmasters all over the world — to help them understand how the Google crawler works (with regard to robots.txt, how to use redirects, non-html content, etc.) so we don’t inadvertently overlook their content.”
I think to myself: Er, you’ve been an AOL partner – in a very major way – for more than five years. And you’re NOW just getting around to this? AOL has never talked to Google about redirects? Indexing non HTML content? Robots.txt? I find that, well, hard to believe. Something is not quite adding up.
I know that AOL has had a non standard content management solution (I think it was called Rainman if I recall correctly), and I know that AOL has been a bit bipolar about whether content is on or off the open web. But….this strikes me as kerfluffle. There’s something else going on. If there’s not, well, OK then. Then AOL is deeply, deeply lame. And, honestly, so is Google, because it seems to me that before you decide to go scan every book in the world, you might drop a dime to your most important partner, and ask if you can help them index their content as well. AOL made its major “open web” announcement in the Fall of 2004. Just a thought, as I drop into Holiday land….
PS – From a UBS report (Ben Schachter) that just came in:
Google AOL: Additional Detail from the 8-K
July 1, 2008 potential liquidity event
Under the terms of the agreement, beginning on July 1, 2008, GOOG will have certain rights to register its 5% stake in AOL for sale in an IPO. Time Warner will retain the right to purchase that 5% stake for an “appraised fair market value” in lieu of an IPO. (See my previous post on this issue here)
5 key operational details not in previous press release
1) The agreement runs for 5 years, 2) There are revenue guarantees, 3) We believe the TAC rates remain at 85% (our est.), the same as under the previous deal, 4) GOOG also gets 15% (our est.) revenue share when AOL sells sponsored search listings directly to its AOL advertisers, 5) a GOOG Talk user will need to register with the AIM service in order to communicate with AIM users.
Details still to be negotiated
While AOL and GOOG have agreed to extend their strategic partnership pursuant to terms announced in their recent joint press release, many operational details remain to be negotiated. The 8-K states that these will be negotiated by 1Q06, and that any remaining issues will go to “binding expedited arbitration”.