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Google’s Profit & LibraryLand

Here’s the Silicon Valley Insider’s chart of Google’s latest profit mix:

“Google’s non-search businesses contribute only about 5% of Google’s profits. The other 95% comes from search ads.”

Read more:

This is interesting to libraryland for a number of reasons.

1. Companies that serve their core customer very well can be more successful. Google’s core customer is not end users. It does serve up end user searches in service of its core customer. I define the core customer of Google as the ones who are paying for services. And those are advertisers, plain and simple. Seems simple, but some libraries forget that.

2. Google ranks very poorly on customer service for end users. Try to get some service. Libraries rank very high on customer service satisfaction compared to most enterprises.

3. Google adjusts its search algorithm and its search algorithm can be gamed using SEO (search engine otpimization) techniques. These tools are in place for the customers who desire to ensure that sites and ads are on the top page of searches. Profits of billions of dollars every year are a powerful incentive to serve the ad client and their clients. Google can target searches and ads based on the needs of commercial advertising, special interest groups and political lobbyists. For example you can target ads using geo-tagging to appear just on school campuses or target political messages based on your state or census demographic profile.

So libraries should remember and note clearly that:

A. Libraries are strongly differentiated from Google in that we have professional and trained staff who provide service to end user – in person, by e-mail, online and by phone. Libraries do focus on the end user and our measures of success land squarely on serving those people.

B. Libraries offer databases and OPACs in their branches with assistance available and virtually and these searches are through databases with high quality content and with search engines that are non-partisan and are unaffected by the needs of commcercial search.

C. Libraries offer programs and services beyond search. In fact search is a very small portion of the library service portfolio. Google is clearly a one-trick pony. A $11.72-billion-profit one-trick pony, but a one-trick pony nonetheless. Libraries are not.

Libraries need to get much better at differentiating ourselves from simple search. Google is a great business but libraries are a greater enterprise.


Posted on: October 16, 2010, 9:35 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Thank you for this post. This is such an important point you bring up–especially for those of us who are currently in school and who need to both understand and articulate the value of libraries to individuals who do not see a clear distinction between our services and those of Google.