Tag Archives: Google

Google and the future of trust

Looking for the capitol of Iowa? What about directions to your son’s baseball game? Got a bet on how old Brooke Shields really is?

The answer is Google—a noun that we’ve lovingly transformed into a verb and quickly equated with “the search for knowledge.”

Much to the founders’ delight, I’m sure. Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google with a goal to simply make information more accessible. In a true American “boot straps” kind of story, these two Stanford PhD candidates started a little research project that soon became known around the world as “Google.”

Garage start-ups are not a foreign thing to us, but Google is different. Somehow, its origins seem clean to us. Its disinterest in bankrolls seems genuine – its altruism real. The impromptu “don’t be evil” motto is literally engraved on its walls.

This week I read Ken Auletta’s excellent new book Googled, in which he says,

“Naïveté and passion make a potent mix; combine the two with power and you have an extraordinary force, one that can effect great change for good or for ill. Google fervently believes it has a mission. ‘Our goal is to change the world.’ Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, told me. ‘Making money, he continued, is a technology to pay for it.’

For good or for ill is the question.

Ironically, this was not a good week for the Google empire. Earlier this week an Italian court convicted three Google executives of violating privacy protection when it refused to take down a YouTube video showing teenagers bullying an autistic boy.

On Friday, Microsoft came out swinging, voicing concerns about Google’s online dominance. The European Commission is looking into complaints against Google from three European Internet sites, one of which – a Microsoft subsidiary.

I can hear Microsoft now, saying, “Hey Google, don’t worry we kept the hot seat warm for you.”

In the past, Google has enjoyed a tough coating of trust on our part. We use Gmail at home, Google Docs at work, Google News when we wake up, YouTube before we go to bed, and Search about 27 times a day. We essentially donate our most intimate information so that Google can refine its product and make a buck. To us, however, it’s a free service that makes our lives infinitely better. And we love Google for it (I’m not being facetious here, I really love. Google.)

Despite my appreciation for all things Google, my reading this week of Auletta’s Googled has led me to at least question our allegiance to a company who verbally promises its best intentions and sticks our secrets in “the cloud.”

How many antitrust, anti-privacy allegations will it take to dent its armor? I’m not urging Google the giant to be blasted – what would I do without it? (Again, not sarcasm, really.) I’m just curious how this mega-brand does it. Can we find more Larrys and Sergeys with genius aspiration and selfless ambition – and bottle it.

I’m sure if it’s possible, Google will get around to it.

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User-centered design with room for cream?

I don’t think a week passes that I don’t spend at least one night at my local Barnes and Noble. It’s something about the coffee aromas and mere presence of volumes and volumes of information at my fingertips. It’s the tangible hardcopy of my dear friend and confidant Google (even if it is a meager microcosm). I will always love the smell and feel of books. Always. (sorry, Google, I love you too).

As I sit here, perched once again with my beloved MacBook Pro and café Americano, I am surprised by just how many people frequent Barnes and Noble on a Friday night. It was sheer luck that I snatched the one and only remaining comfy chair in the entire building.

What is going on here? What makes people put on pants and find their cars keys and fight the traffic to sit Indian-style under the fluorescent lights of a mega bookstore? Is it something in the Starbucks? (I realize I just dropped a lot of brand names in succession but I promise I am not getting paid…you would believe me if you could see my car.)

I think the answers to these questions are important to the future of interactivity, marketing, the Internet – all of it.

People are attracted to bookstores like Barnes and Noble because that is where they find control, valuable information, community, and a rich user-centered experience.

No one monitors how long you’ve been reading a book before you pay for it. You can sit there all day long and read three books and leave without paying a dime—and many people do. No one makes you download the trial version of your manual or self-help book before you take if off the shelf. And certainly no one pops out of the bookcase with an annoying flashy advertisement.

This model works because it offers the consumer a user-centered experience, complete with tasty coffee, comfy chairs and most of the conveniences of home (minus the PJ’s). It offers a lot for a little in return. And it works because people really appreciate it.

So here’s my point. If you want to be effective in wooing consumers online, look and see what works in the “real world.” Your first goal should be to find what would satiate your consumer’s intrinsic need for things like control, personalization, convenience and community online. This goal has to trump your personal agenda to sell or market whatever your latest and brightest idea may be.

“If you build it, they will come,” is dead and gone.

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Watch mobile searches double in the U.S. before your very eyes

Since I wrote about data visualization tools earlier this week, it’s only right that I take a few minutes to show you just how easy this chart-making business can be.

I used Google Docs to throw together a quick chart illustrating mobile search usage – and it’s interactive – our favorite!

In recent research of interactive marketing, I have come across some interesting statistics regarding mobile Internet usage and what this could potentially mean to the online marketing world.

comScore M:Metrics reported last year that 20.8 million U.S. and 4.5 million European mobile subscribers accessed mobile searches during June. This figure was an increase of 68 and 38 percent compared to June 2007.

So, to illustrate this growth, I plopped the numbers of users into a Google spreadsheet, along with the year and country. Then I went to insert gadget and transformed the data into a motion chart.

Once it has been applied, the viewer can scroll through and view the trajectory of the mobile search use over time in every country included in the study.

Here’s a screen shot of the chart showing the 2007 data:

Picture 4

Once you scroll across the bottom, you are able to view the figure for 2008. Then the chart looks something like this:

Picture 3Here, the orange ball represents the tremendous growth of mobile search by subscribers in the U.S. Pretty impressive huh? That’s the point.

Pictures will forever be a more impressive way to tell a story, or in this case, share a fact. By creating an interactive data visualization, your audience is able to learn, understand and care more about what you have to say.

If you have a Google Docs account, you can view the spreadsheet I used to create the motion and test-drive the interactive features of the chart.

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