Do You Want To Compete Against Google?

Jul 28th, 2008 | By | Category: Commentary

Jason Calacanis has published a smart post today, looking at the implications of Google Knol – and the idea that Google’s now a content company competing with Wikipedia, media networks and you as a blogger, vlogger or podcaster.

When Google announced Knol, we said “Google is looking for a way to monetize user-generated articles, effectively paying you to create a Wikipedia-killer.”

Calacanis is looking beyond the idea of Knol being a Wikipedia-killer, though, suggesting that Google’s now a content publisher competing with every content creator:

Let’s run a test: what is the role of a content publisher?

1. Secure talent
2. Distribute their work
3. Monetize that work
4. Pay the content creator for their work
5. Build a library of that work for future monetization

So, if you’re the New York Times or Wall Street Journal you:

1. Hire John Markoff and Walt Mossberg (on staff)
2. Distribute their technology reportage
3. Sell advertising against that reportage
4. Pay Markoff and Mossberg
5. Create an archive on and of their work.

Let’s run Google’s Knol through this same process:

1. Hire writers (on contingency) — check
2. Distribute these pages in Google’s search results — check
3. Sell advertising against it in the form of AdSense — check
4. Pay the writers via AdSense split — check
5. Create an archive on Knol for future monetization — check

Google has left the “don’t be evil” days far behind, and appears to be using its search monopoly to take an ever growing slice of the online advertising pie.

“It seems that Google, the greatest web-business ever created, is not satisfied with owning over 70% of search,” writes Calacanis. “Now they want to own the first couple of pages in their search results. So, if you’re,,, and Wikipedia, you’re faced with not only being traffic-dependent on Google, you’re now competing with them for the traffic within their search result.”

With Google putting Knol pages high in search results, content publishers are faced with a tough choice: move your content into Knol and share your revenue with Google, or watch Google pay somebody to build your your competition.

Tags: ,

No Responses to “Do You Want To Compete Against Google?”

  1. Since I am writing, blogging, wiking and podcasting to get some recognition for, and about getting some media space for, multiple sclerosis, I figure that they’ll fall prey to “bigness” (and when you try to represent for .0833% of the general population, you are definitely marginal,) so let Google start whatever it wants to, I and the 1 in 1,200 are already too small to matter. I definitely slip in between the cracks.

  2. Whit says:

    The tipping point has officially been reached.

    Knol is the catalyst that is going to cause the tide to turn on Google’s “Do no evil” mantra. Knol is going to seriously handicap a lot of content players and in turn hurt turn Google into the new Microsoft (not overnight of course, but very slowly). I am not saying that Knol is not a great idea and will not provide a benefit over Wikipedia in terms of credibility, but Knol is going to pull revenues from the many smaller players and eat into the web ecosystem.

    Calacanis is spot-on that Google is now in the content business. I have to think that the crazy publicity that Cuil is getting is part of a new found desire for a new player in the search game.


  3. I think the only way it could be possible to compete is to stop absolutely every internet user from clicking ads on Knol – the only thing Google needs it for is money and if the revenue stream is non-existent, it is contrary to business logic to keep such a product. But I don’t think anyone (Jason Calacanis included) will be able to stop every internet user from clicking those ads. So maybe start convincing to use an alternative search engine (not Mahalo since it is hardly an alternative)?

Leave a Reply