Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Google execs look ahead and see even more more from their powerful business model

Posted by Richard Koman - April 21, 2005

google_manual.jpgI've transcribed my notes from the analyst conference call Google held today to discuss their earnings. It was a pretty interesting conversation, I must say. I believe they really care about providing great user experiences. Ultimately, I think they're mostly interested in the improvements that also allow a rich stream of data to flow back to Google, from which they can figure out better ways to sell advertising and targeted marketing. I don't think it's any more nefarious than that; but I do think it's the basis of their ability to monetize user patterns as brilliantly as they do.

OK, here's the conversation, at least the part that I managed to take notes on.

Q: Can you talk about monetizing some of the non-search products, such as Google News and Froogle?

A: We don't think about it that way. Many of our products are integrated into the main search product. These products improve our core products and the core products enhance our ability to monetize the other products.

Q: Are you going to extend the advertising content to support graphical ads/more brand-oriented ads?

A: There are a number of efforts to make advertising more graphical which will be rolled out in coming months. We're also working on doing more targeting, which is pretty minimal right now.

Q: Can you explain the increased capital expenditures (which went from $86m to $142m)?

A: We invest in technology needed to provice services at the level we do. We build very sophisticated hardware platforms to do that. Not all of that money is in computer equipment but most of it is.

Q: I know you've said you're not building a browser, but are you thinking about products that let users get at content without having to go through IE or Firefox?

A: Well, you can already do that through Google Desktop. But our goal is to solve very large user problems. You can see amazing things are going to be possible inside the browser if you look at Google Maps.

Q: [Some question about Adsense]

A: We're looking at a number of ways to extend the advertising network. We're already shipping image ads and testing targeting techniques.

Q: MSN is running on 64-bit architecture. Do you think you'll also switch to 64-bit?

A: I think architecture is invisible to users, so it's not really a competitive factor.

Q: Talk about how you'll monetize video?

A: Right now we're just collecting video, we're not distributing although we want to. We're not sure what the details are.

Q: Enhancements to advertiser support?

A: [Eric Schmidt:] For large advertisers, we have support teams and people we call maximizers, who make sure the creative really works well. We have automatic tools to submit, rank and change your advertising, so they can change what they're doing every week, day, hour, minute.

[Sergey Brin:] The system is really optimized for the middle. We do special solutions for larger advertisers. We need to achieve greater simplicity for new and smaller advertisers.

Q: Is there some intention to monetize the new Search History function (which recently came out in beta]?

A: The only intent is to deal with a real user issue. It's a great research tool. I don't think anyone has thought about advertising with respect to Search History.

Q: Any plans to institue a stock buyback plan?

A: We're focused on accumulating cash right now, so no.

Q: Have you thought about extending Google's approach and brand into offline media?

A: The way we look at questions like that is, what is the end user benefit? Our advertising model is a beautiful thing and we're certainly going to extend it as far as we can.

Q: Comment on the French news service AFP's suit against Google News?

A: We've got a number of situations where we've become an important distribution channel. Our strategy is to work with copyright holders; our goal is to make all information available and accessible while respecting the rights and needs of copyright owners.

Final comment from Sergey: We are very busy here at Google.

We're focused on end users. We're focused on making better products for end users and advertising will flow into that. This is a very powerful model.
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