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Not content to just suck advertising dollars from Web search, Google is using its windfall to pay for an eclectic range of ambitious projects that have the potential to radically disrupt other industries. Among other things, it is offering to build a free wireless Internet network in San Francisco, plans to scan nearly every book published and is testing a free classified advertising system it calls Google Base.
More quietly, Google is also preparing to disrupt the advertising business itself, by replacing creative salesmanship with cold number-crunching. Its premise so far is that advertising is most effective when seen only by people who are interested in what’s for sale, based on what they are searching for or reading about on the Web. Because Google’s ad-buying clients pay for ads only when users click on them, they can precisely measure their effectiveness – and are willing to pay more for ads that really sell their products.
Interestingly, Google placed a full page color ad, seeking advertising sales people, in today’s NY Times Business section. From what I can tell (I subscribe to the fishwrap version of the Times), this is rather rare. John Batelle raises some useful points as well.