Search for Profit Is the Only Search That Matters for Google; Media Expert Dr John Jewell Looks at How Internet Search Engine Google Has Become the World's Most Valuable Brand

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 31, 2017 | Go to article overview

Search for Profit Is the Only Search That Matters for Google; Media Expert Dr John Jewell Looks at How Internet Search Engine Google Has Become the World's Most Valuable Brand


IT'S a fair bet that the majority of people reading this will not have heard of Alphabet, which is, according to Economist magazine, the most valuable listed company in the world by market capitalisation.

Its capacity to make money is staggering. With revenue of $90bn in 2016, in April this year Alphabet's market value passed $600bn whilst recently released figures showed a 21% annual rise in revenues of $26bn during the three months to June 30.

But whilst we might not know of Alphabet we will almost certainly know of Google, the company's chief asset. Google, while other search engines have seen a decrease in usage, has become the key which allows almost instant access to the wonders of the World Wide Web. It processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to more than 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Google has, according to the yearly Global 500 rankings, replaced Apple as the world's most valuable brand. And when one considers that Google is currently banned in China, these figures are even more astounding. As Rory Cellan-Jones has pointed out; 20 years ago the word Google was unknown. Now, he writes, according to research published by Lancaster University, Google pops up more frequently in casual conversation than "clever", "eggs", "fridge", or "death". In 2006, The Oxford English Dictionary recognised that "Google" had become a verb.

Us ordinary searchers use Google for free, so how does it make such vast sums of money? As their annual report of 2012 put it, "[Google] generates revenue primarily by delivering relevant, costeffective online advertising." This takes the form of Google AdWords where advertisers pay to have their results displayed to particular audiences on relevant sites. The beauty of this from the point of view of the advertiser is that AdWords is a cost per click service, so if a link is not clicked then Google does not make any money directly from the search.

Then there is Google's AdSense which in very simple terms allows website owners to make money by displaying Google ads. Google then takes a share of any revenue generated - again only when someone clicks on the ad.

But this is not all. Google is no longer merely a search engine. As financial expert Kevin Johnston has written, Alphabet has more than 200 companies with YouTube and Android delivering the most profit. Google makes US$9bn per year from advertising on YouTube, which dominates the online video market while Android, the software system used in phones and tablets powers about 85% of all Smartphone's globally. It's hard to disagree with technology writer Lisa Eadicicco who asserts that it's possible to imagine a near future when Android will be in every single device from thermostats to toothbrushes.

That the sheer scale of Google (and Facebook, for that matter) threatens the very existence of the conventional media has been well documented. The revenues that were once taken for granted have all but disappeared as these two giants have harnessed advertising spend. As the Financial Times illustrated, combined, they accounted for 75% of all new online ad spending in 2015. …

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