A Google Reality Check

27 Comments

At the recent Google Press Day, I was intrigued by the continuous chanting of the “focus on search” and back to the basics of 70% mantra by the senior Google executives. I wondered to myself, well perhaps, a little fear of the big brother up north is making them circle the wagons a little.

Of course there was that fleeting thought that some of the newer offerings weren’t really sticking to the wall. I dismissed those, only because I did not have the data. Anyway a recent analysis Hitwise, confirms some of my suspicions. Others might disagree, and they might be right in their conclusions.

Their data analysis shows that beyond the core search platform, only Google Image Search and Google Mail, are the two off shoots with a meaningful share of their market – 9.54% and 5.51% respectively (I duly note that there is no mention of Blogger.com, and also the fact that Google Calendar, and Google Finance have only been in existence for a very short period of time.)

Google Finance currently ranks 39th in the Business & Finance – Business Information category, with 0.29% market share of visits to the category, Yahoo! Finance in contrast, ranks #1 in the same category with 35.6% of market share….. vertical sites not withstanding, the collection of Google properties continue to grow, in total, accounting for 4.3% of all Internet visits for the week ending 5/13/2006.

Your thoughts, as always are welcome!

27 Comments

Rick

Have you noticed that Yahoo search is now at least as good as Google search? Things that Google misses show up in Yahoo. And Yahoo misses some things that Google picks up, but on balance at this point neither is better than the other. And to do a really comprehensive search you need to use both–unfortunately. That said, Yahoo’s long term position is in my opinion superior. Google’s appeal had always been its simplicity–SEARCH. When they venture into the portal space, they lose their appeal. They may do things better (Gmail vs. Yahoo Mail, for example), but those better ways of doing things are quickly imitated. The problem with Yahoo now is that typing yahoo.com doesn’t take you to search.yahoo.com, which is what we really want. And that’s probably the only thing that will keep Google around.

SentientOrder

“Case in point about over reaching: Google Mars. what a waste of time. As a google shareholder, that kind of thing miffs me. It got buzz for one day, 10 people looked at it and no one ever will again and it does zero for their revenue near or long term.”

what’s in a name … oh nothing at all.

smiles
jeff

Billy The Kid

I’m sorry, but this data shows little, leaves much to be explained and is being miss-interpretted in many track-backs.

The first problem with it is that no accounting of unique users, which elminates skew associated with the number of page views visited within each domain. This would give a better indication of which Google services are more popular than others (with respect to each other).

The other problem is that they don’t indicated anything with regard to “market share” where the market is defined by the competing services offered by other companies. Why is the term “market share” being used when there is no data from other Y or M services?

Scott Milener

Google is trying waaay too many things. Most of the junk they throw out there gets buzz for a few days, some portion of the early adopter crowd, then peters off. There is not a coherent strategy to their releases, whether client software or services. Yahoo, although slower to release things, has a much better strategy around grouping services and making them cross polinate throughout Yahoo so it feels like an organized place to do all those things.

I also belive Google’s minimilst interface will get beaten unless they change it first. Then web and search are moving away from being a list of links on a page to being more of a rich experience, but still simple, or simpler to use.

Case in point about over reaching: Google Mars. what a waste of time. As a google shareholder, that kind of thing miffs me. It got buzz for one day, 10 people looked at it and no one ever will again and it does zero for their revenue near or long term.

Ved

Google finance is relatively new offering, so low numbers are not surprise there. Also, it appears that Yahoo seem to be taking google threat very seriously and improving their finance and other sections.

Hugo

I agree with Zheng, PanMan, and co. :

Om, your analysis is misleading at best.
The first set of percentage numbers gives the breakdown of popularity within the top 20 Google domain names.
“Gmail = 5.51%” means that 5.51% of all visits to Google websites are visits to the Gmail website, NOT that Gmail holds only 5.51% of the web-based email marketshare.
Same with all the rest of the list.

The only number that pertains to your underlying argument (Google Reality Check) is the number for Google Finance, which indeed talks about market share for financial websites.

You would do well to precise these things in a follow-on post, because most readers do not scroll though all the comments, especially those reading from feed readers.

met

Maps, Mail, Personalized Page are all distractions to keep you coming back to the google group of sites and to get you used to their interface.
If there is 1% of the people using Personalized pages, those 1% stick with google because of that.
I believe thats why they keep saying that search is their focus.

Venkatesh

OM,
Alexa stats for traffic distribution are pretty accurate and inline with Hitwise stats.

So I decided to check Yahoo and MSN ! 73% of MSN traffic is for Hotmail and 54% of yahoo is for Yahoo mail . Time for a reality check for Yahoo and MSN ?

Zheng

Some more observations on the Hitwise analysis:

1) Search is universal but portal, email etc are more fragmented. If you go to China, Japan or UK, people use google search but not necessarily Gmail or Y! Finance. It would be interesting to know total search vs email traffic breakdown.

2) Not all pageviews are equal. My feeling is search makes a lot of more money than portal. I dont remember I’ve even clicked ads on Y! Finance but I do when I search stuff to buy on google.

3) Text ads are much more effective than flashy graphics. I did some experiements and was shocked to see the difference between text ads and graphic banners on the same page for google adsense. This explains why google is making more money than Yahoo with less traffic.

Brady Joslin

Google does not do a good job making the average Joe aware of all of the other services it offers. They are all buried past their home page. Sure, us folks that read blogs get all hyped up when they offer a new service and rush to sign up, but most folks are not like us. Until they use their homepage to effectively advertise their other services, this will be the case.

Google seems to do a good job making ad money, but can’t even effectively advertise their own products on their home page. Sort of ironic. The simplistic design of their homepage has always been praised as a reason for their popularity, but if Google wants to grow its service offerings they will need to figure out an effective way to gain awareness.

Right now these services seem to operate in a vacuum and Google is not realizing synergies that could be made through cross-promotion.

Jared Spool

Panman wrote:

I don’t get the point of this analysis, other than showing that search is still Google’s primary thing?

When you add text search and image search together, you get more than 89% of all of Google’s activity going to search. Yes, you don’t use maps as frequently as you use search. But do you use mail throughout your day? How about news?

These aren’t even coming close. It has implications on what Google will be when it “grows up.”

More here.

George Nimeh

Hi,

Google never wanted to be a portal, and their traffic shows that despite the launch of many new products and services (everything from Finance to a Calendar) they are succeeding in not becoming one.

I also think that Google suffers from the “Nimoy Syndrome”

Do you agree?
~G~

Vickram

“I wondered to myself, well perhaps, a little fear of the big brother up north is making them circle the wagons a little.”

When will you Americans learn not to fear your Canadian brethren! When???…oh, you meant them…

Eric

I don’t get the point of this analysis, other than showing that search is still Google’s primary thing? Saying that only 1% of visits to the Google domain go to Google Maps tells you almost nothing useful, and gets kind of a “duh” reaction from me. For example, I use a lot of Google’s offerings… but I’ll do 50-60 searches a day vs. using maps maybe once a day. It says more about the nature of the products than anything else – there’s just a much smaller market for maps than search.

The only meaningful metrics would be comparing each service to comparable ones – how does Google Maps traffic compare to Yahoo and Mapquest? How does Google Video compare to YouTube? Etc.

PanMan

Zheng is right in his comment. From the article:
The table below details the percentage market share that each property accounts for in relation to all visits to the top 20 Google Domains.
So the 0.82% for maps mean that less than 1% of all Google hits (visitors/whatever) are on maps. This could still mean they have a 90% market share in the mapping business, just that that business is way smaller than search is.
As for maps, my guestimate is way above the 1% market share. The same holds for image search (I’d say above 50%) and many others.

ko

I can’t help but feel that Google is changing the way they conduct to appease to their Wall Street overlords. Focus on your products, not on wall street.

LG

This is why I wish Google had never gone public. As a private company, you’ve got a lot more scope to behave in unusual ways, to try out varying experiments for the sake of trying them out. Fund managers aren’t constantly looking over your shoulder, buzzwording you in to a corner with irritating questions like “How does this generate money for us this quarter?”
It seems that (even if Google are trying hard to avoid it) fund managers and money men are having more of a say than they ever did before.

Munjal Shah

Almost all breakaway successes go through a period where they invest massively in trying to not be a one product company. Google is not the first to try this. With a few exceptions most fail to expand beyond their core. It is not surprising that Google is mortal in the same way.

Startups.in

Goog’s core is ads, on which it has its foundations built & upon which its major business structure rests.

The core however is getting shrinked due to the increasing force being exerted on it by others which can shake down its entire business.

The only way it can strengthen its core is by heavily reinforcing it rather than leaving it to rust.

Regards,
Nag @
Startups.in

Randhir Reddy

Google has been introducing a deluge of Products lately. And all of these start off with the basic functionality, with clean, uncluttered and intuitive interface, like Apple’s products.
But most of those Products, take time to graduate to a level where they’d be able to compete with the incumbents head on.

And, the moment Google introduces a product in any category, there is virtually a mad rush in making the offerings better. Undoubtedly, the End user of the internet is the one gaining out of such efforts. We should compliment Google on trying to redfine every business it enters, rather than being so hyper critical of its moves.

Kiran Nataraj

Think long tail. Getting some basic market share for products that Google launches will be fairly easy. Increasing the market share will need special focus – akin to floating a separate company/division for that. So as long as the long tail effect help Google get in revenues (with 2-3 products having significant market share) – they should be ok.

Zheng

The Hitwise table only shows the traffic shares within google. What we dont know is the breakdown of Internet traffic among different cateorgies. If business information accounts for a small percentage of the total traffic, it may not be a big deal for google.

Nitin Ahuja

Not to take credit away from Google, their core products – search and AdSense are huge in the marketplace. However, consider products like Google Pack, which are totally out of the scope of what Google’s core. Organizations do need to innovate (like Google’s 70-20-10), no doubt, but that needs to be combined with focus and scope. It is not reasonable to expect a lot of their non-core products to excel in the market, since they are not really coming off the core assembly line, and are adhoc products, if you will. It could be a means of testing new waters, or achieving higher employee satisfaction, but again, focus is essential. Therefore, they as well as the marketplace should take the feedback of their “fluff” offerings with a piece of salt.

Robert Dewey

Yahoo is the portal of entertainment… Google is (or is supposed to be) the portal of “information” – but I don’t really see it.

What would be really cool is if everyone on the net could have their own identity and personal portal where they can store and share everything they come across — which is then searchable by other members. I guess we should be thinking Del.icio.us Google LinkedIn; if you want portal, I think something like that would be it.

Chetan

I am wondering why Blogger.com is being neglected. Their are no upgrades and earlier they were allowing customers to setup blogging on their own domain which was suspended later. Is it back up and running again ?

Nitin Ahuja

Agreed. The market is deluge with offerings, and there is a difference between the search and advertising mindset (Google’s) Vs a portal mindset (Yahoo !). Google cannot compete with Yahoo’s grey hair on providing content portals (vertical and horizontal). Matter of fact its a funny statement, Google keeps talking about limiting their products to “Information”, I mean come on, isn’t that all there is to IT, after all everyone is providing information, or services around it.

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