Google’s search engine indexes billions of pages and gives the search speedy results. The engine ranks websites organically regarding links into a page as a positive endorsement or vote. So if people like your pages they will link to them and the page will get a better rank than sites with fewer in-links.
Google was started in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin with an initial investment of $100,000. The company went public in 2004 and both founders did very nicely thank you (and became billionaires overnight). At that time the duo employed around 7000 people and grew at a tremendous rate, with some claiming that Google was the fastest growing internet company in the world. In 2008 revenues were more than $21 billion and net profit was $4 billion.
Larry and Sergey are now worth an estimated $6 billion. Their story is synonymous with Google’s history. They were brilliant computer science students. They met when Sergey was helping out at a student open day and Larry was one of the prospective students. They became good colleagues although rumour has that they used to debate quite a lot. Eventually they worked together to build some software that could be used to search the internet. They touted it around the early search engine companies of the time but none of them had the enthusiasm that matched that of Larry and Sergey. So they decided to start their own company called ‘Google.’ Their competitive advantage was that the search engine would give objective and useful results – quickly.
- Google’s income is made through advertising. When a consumer types in a keyword such as ‘contact lenses’ the search engine will display natural or ‘organic’ results – as it would for any search term. However you will notice that at the top and/or along the right hand side of the results, there are a series of advertisements. These advertisements are paid for by companies. The advertising program is called Google AdWords. See ‘price’ below.
- Google has a relationship with a number of libraries around the world. One of its goals is to digitize as many books as possible and to include them in search result. This could mean that all books are available to everybody. The key problem with this initiative (apart from the enormity of the task) is that Google does not own the rights to all books – the writers and the copyright owners do, and they are not happy. One of those participants is Stanford University.
- Google is the world’s most popular search engine.
- Google Earth enables users to view the world from space. That’s a real opportunity for you and me to experience something that our ancestors never did. However there could be security implications. Like any information – it can be used for good or bad. Anyway you’ll notice that the pictures are often dated and taken some time ago. Privacy is also an issue – do you want a satellite taking pictures of your home for the world to see? In 2009 they launched a revised version of Google Earth which includes the opportunity to view 3D oceans.
- Critics argue that Google is a tool for plagiarism. Plagiarism is essentially cheating by passing off the work of others as your own when submitting assessments at school, college and university. It is the same as copying and is often punished.
- Google Scholar – which supports a broad trawl of material such as peer reviewed journals, theses and other academic material.
- iGoogle – a personalized Google page.
- The ever evolving list of products includes Google finance, Google news, Google blog search, Google video, YouTube, Google sites, Blogger, Orkut, Google Reader, Google Groups, Google Calendar and Google Docs.
- In 2008 Google Chrome was launched. Google Chrome is an open source browser.
Google Marketing Mix
Google is a search engine. Search engines are used to search the Internet. However Google is much more than a search engine – it’s a global company that specializes in innovation and technology. The business focuses on information made up mainly from web pages, although today all information is absorbed by the Google sponge including books, videos and music. Let’s not take the search engine for granted – masses of information is available to everyone and we all have the potential to develop our own knowledge and learning. Would you like to take a lesson on the marketing mix?
- How does Google make money? Through a special advertising program called AdWords. AdWords (see ‘product’ above) are keyword-based advertisements that are bought by companies. So if you have a company that distributes contact lenses, you would bid against other distributors of contact lenses for the highest place (or nearby). By bidding for lucrative keywords this raises the price and Google make money. It’s rather like selling a rare item on eBay; the rarer it is the more money you make; the more bidders that compete for the item the more money you make. Hence the more valuable a keyword the more it will make. Advertisers are making more than their investment in advertising, and this makes it an appealing program for business. It is measurable using basic software so advertisers can work out how much they are making on their investment, which is more complex to do with traditional advertising media.
- Click fraud is a potential problem with AdWords. Every time you click on an advert Google gets paid by the advertiser. Sometimes competitors will fraudulently click on your advert and this is theft, or fraud. Google has many ways of tackling this and click fraud is less of a problem today.
- The company is located at Mountain View in California. The site looks very much like a university campus with gyms and cafes. The environment enables employees to maximize their time. The Googleplex is the name given to its HQ.
- Another way of looking at place is that Google is an online business i.e. it distributes using an the internet as its channel.
- Google uses AdWords itself. Often you’ll see adverts with a link to Google’s own services.
- They include flyers inside business magazines.
- They use money off promotions to incentivize advertisers to use AdWords e.g. free $20 worth of advertising.
- Google Chrome has its own TV advert.
- Google has a Public Relations function that it uses to proactively manage media.
- Google will sponsor a $30 million competition for an unmanned lunar landing. The winner must land a rover on the moon; the rover should travel 500 metres, and then send back a video to Earth.
- Google retains your search term. It collects data on searches to help to refine the search algorithm. So don’t think that you search anonymously. Google keeps your search terms and can link them to the address of your computer, and then to you. Whilst Google may not wish to spy on you, governments may take an interest in searching habits and this is a civil liberties issue.
- If you use Google mail (Gmail) or Google calendar then you are giving even more information about yourself to Google.
- Google co-operates with the Chinese government in its censorship of certain search terms and results. Is it becoming a political animal, or just maximizing a business opportunity?
- The name Googol means a number followed by 100 zeros. However the founders mistakenly registered Google as their domain name.
- The company is located at Mountain View in California (see ‘place’).
- In 2008 Google employed 20,000 people.
- Many of the original employees of Google came from Stanford and other elite US universities. It employs the top brains, and people like working together Google’s innovative business culture. Employees are encouraged to take advantage of 20% time – that’s one day every week working on their personal pet project. They play sports at lunchtime, with Larry and Sergey enjoying roller hockey in the early days.
- Its motto is ‘Don’t be evil.’ This comes from its informal, collegiate origins. Google can be a success without losing its integrity. However search engines are based upon algorithms which are loaded with choices about what to value and what to include/exclude.
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. More.
This case study has been compiled from information freely available from public sources. It is merely intended to be used for educational purposes only.