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

Google is a Media Company

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 12, 2008

The recent New York Times article "Is Google a Media Company?" reports on Google's recent launch of Knol, a Wikipedia-like service launched last month.

While Knol is only three weeks old and still relatively obscure, it has already rekindled fears among some media companies that Google is increasingly becoming a competitor. They foresee Google’s becoming a powerful rival that not only owns a growing number of content properties, including YouTube, the top online video site, and Blogger, a leading blogging service, but also holds the keys to directing users around the Web.

“If in fact a Google property is taking money away from Google’s partners, that is a real problem,” said Wenda Harris Millard, the co-chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

A Google spokesperson, Gabriel Stricker says, "We are not interested in owning or creating content." This is a strange statement to make since the article points out that Google owns YouTube and much more.

Foremski's Take:

For the past four years I've been saying that Google, Yahoo and many other large Internet companies such as AOL, and eBay are media companies. They publish pages of content with advertising around it.

The fact of owning or not owning the content is a red herring. Either way, Google publishes pages of content with advertising around it. How is that not a media company?

GOOG is not a technology company. What technology can you buy from Google? I can buy a database from Oracle--that's a technology company. I can buy microprocessors from Intel--that's a technology company. What technology can you buy from Google?

Google is a technology-enabled media company. It won't create its own content. It mostly scrapes its content from the Internet, or collects it from users of Youtube, etc, and sells advertising around it. How it gets its content is not important, it is still a media company.

Why does Google insist it isn't a media company? Because large media companies such as the New York Times outsource a large part of their online advertising to Google.

Would the New York Times outsource its advertising to another media company such as Tribune or Gannett? Certainly not.

But Google can get away with it provided it is not viewed as a media company but as a technology company.

Again, I'll ask, what technology can you buy from Google? Google publishes pages of content with advertising around it. How is that not a media company?

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