by Jeff Molander
October 26, 2006
Three of my most credible resources, including DM News’s Giselle Abramovich, are indicating plans for a significant re-organization at Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). Secondly, Google is positioning to move on the AdSense for Audio front—a move to monetize podcasts and other forms of streaming or “on demand” audio programs via the Web. Remember their acquisition of dMarc?
On the re-org, says Ms. Abramovich,
“What this means is that there would be one global account director per account, that pulls in resources to sell as needed - PPC (pay-per-click), Print, Radio, Video, Display, etc.”
As of yet nobody can confirm with anyone at Google but the leaks are emanating from Google itself according to all three of my sources.
One of my most trusted colleagues, who asked to not be identified, suggested “People love Google planned leaks. My theory is that Google intentionally uses these leaks to gauge industry receptiveness and craft their spin.”
Without doubt this will create tremendous buzz across the blogosphere and, perhaps, beyond (Wall Street?) given the many vocal critics of Google’s rather scatter-shot, from-the-hip product development style and relatively informal corporate structure. How will the nearly 6,000 employees feel about such a change? Will it create culture shock on the inside and what about client (advertiser) relationships? As I see it more organization could offer serious benefits but as companies grow we all know… they tend to be difficult, but not impossible, to turn on a dime (i.e. Microsoft).
AdSense for Audio
In related news via ThreadWatch, Google is demonstrating clear plans to monetize streaming audio (i.e. radio) and, perhaps, “on demand”, downloadable (i.e. podcasting) audio programs. This would put Google in competition with emerging podcast networks and advertising network plays.
How will they engage the market? You guessed it—it appears contextual placement of ads along side of podcasts. I would think they would focus on streaming media appearing on Web pages and, likely, RSS feeds… perhaps even within Google Reader?
“Google continues to surprise and run interesting feints and parries,” says Revenews.com’s Wayne Porter.
“MTV is already using their engine for video serving, APIs for their Google Maps… which will no doubt spring ads with a ninety day notice… and soon to tap the well of podcasts via their patents. Indeed, YouTube and video advertising are becoming wrapped into one shocking move.”
“As Google turns you can feel the fabric of the media tear beneath your feet,” comments Porter.
What does this mean for companies like Adam Curry’s Podshow where the game is aggregation of quality audio programs and monetization of them through radio-style audio ads within the actual program itself? Will Google use its patented ability to take voice and turn it into a search query... and scale it? This would allow Google’s AdSense for Audio service to “listen” to podcast content and provide contextually matched text ads on a Web page. Yet what’s stopping them from placing audio ads at the front and/or tail of audio programs delivered via the Web? This is not a new idea (there are a handful of start-ups like Podbridge, Podtrac promising this or a variation of it) but Google has the proven ability to scale and Madison Avenue presence… just like Podshow does. Hence, I believe this move by Google is bad news for a variety of startups promising a “podcast - advertising” match service.
As I see it, this pits traditional advertising (Podshow’s model) up against the ability of the Web to provide scale—the secret sauce behind AdSense’s wild success. Will advertisers prefer the “audience demographic” means of ad placement over the more scalable, contextually-driven (automated) AdSense version?