Google: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

We all know that Google makes most of its money from product advertisements, but that is beginning to take a backseat as their preferred means of revenue generation.

Now, Google would much rather take a rev-share/commission on the traffic they generate as their number-one means of monetization. This is a dramatic shift that will have a profound impact on several industries, and it has already started happening.

Remember, there are companies that are worth hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars that generate a significant amount of their revenue and profit by utilizing search engine marketing strategies. If these companies can do so while also paying Google for the clicks, think about how much Google can make by cutting out that middle man (the advertisers)! Now, instead of making a certain amount per click, they can get a % of the sale—that’s a much more lucrative venture.

If you look at the following image, you’ll see an eye tracking study of Google’s new flight search results page. As you can see, the airline logos and their flight search product dominate where people are looking. No surprise there.

Google Flight Eye Tracking

Here’s a screen shot of a credit card-related search. As you would imagine, the credit card logos are taking up a similar amount of real estate as did the flight search product.

Credit Card SERP


Give the people what they want, but do the people want a monopoly?

This is where Google starts teetering on a monopoly. Making as much money as you can from ads is one thing, but when you start creating and favoring your own products, you undercut entire industries and businesses and there is nothing they can do about it.

It’s in the same vein as the seemingly positive correlation between Google+ usage/+1s and higher rankings in the search results—Google has the power to favor their own products, and they aren’t afraid to use it.

What do you think—do you support what seems like Google’s slow and steady move towards monopolization, or are they crossing the line?
Alex Becker is a founding partner of Highly Relevant and currently serves as the SEO Manager of an Internet Media Company called Oversee.

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