There I said it.
I’ve been working with Thomson Reuters on a sponsored series of pieces on the Future of Search. The latest post is John Battelle’s thoughts on Microsoft’s Cashback initiative. Then today a post by Mike Troiano about how Google Sucks. The posts got me thinking about the relationship between search engine quality and monetization. I think the two diverge pretty radically and I think we are getting there quickly.
Google doesn’t suck. It is an amazing business made by people who had the discipline to focus on building a great product and then married it to a business model that scaled like nothing seen before in advertising.
In the process of Google creating a market cap that rivals small countries one thought has surfaced over and over in my head. Search quality will almost certainly suffer as search advertising revenue growth rates slow (and they will.) The best search experiences will not surface the most monetizable ads. Ultimately, search engines will need to cede more and more pixels to the ads and the user interface will require designs that maximize ad performance. If a search engine really does its job, learns what I like, who I am, where I am, etc. the organic results should always outperform the paid results. Always. Period.
The future of search will require different sources of monetization. Think I’m wrong?