Google+: How Does One Measure Success?

July 10, 2011

I keep trying to avoid the Google+ “thing.” I focus on a different slice of the online world, but my newsreader and Overflight system overfloweth with baloney about a service that is in trial, less than two weeks old, and pretty much a knock off of Facebook. This “me too” stuff is becoming the focus on innovation, and I am not too interested in learning how to use a wheel or light a fire, thank you.


How does one measure success? Tweets, revenue, number of products and services offered customers? Source:

I did notice two items this morning. The first was a report about the number of short messages mentioning Google+. Yep, let’s get on the Tweeter thing. I find the data illustrative of the spike nature of information. Where’s that Fukushima thing? Long gone for today news consumers, but the aftermath of the event is good for a couple thousand years.

The second item was my favorite techno-management guru, Eric Schimdt. The view that caught my eye appeared in “Eric Schmidt on Gauging Google+’s Success.” There is a great deal of information in the write up and the embedded video. Here’s the passage that caught my attention:

When asked by reporters whether Google planned eventually to fill out Google+ with other products, Schmidt answered, “Yeah, and there’s a lot coming,” saying that business accounts and ads are expected, assuming Google+ continues to grow. ”We test stuff and when it works we put a lot more emphasis on it,” he said.

Okay, “a lot” and “test stuff”. Let’s reflect.

Google is juggling a large number of balls, just like IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. What’s interesting to me is that the company’s principal—dare I say, “only”—revenue stream is advertising. The purpose of Google+, Android, and the other major initiatives is generating advertising revenue.

I urge Google to move forward and generate ad revenue from these services. The reason is that once again I talked with a number of companies and heard one message, “We need traffic. Something’s changed at Google, and we don’t know what to do.”

My response was, “Adapt.”

Google has shifted its attention from the brute force approach to information to a new, compound model. The focus of that model is not delivering better results. The focus is producing revenue. And the company needs the new sources. With Web traffic shifting from desktop access to mobile access, Google has to find a way to sustain revenue and then grow significant new streams. Generating new revenue streams is not easy. The case example? Google itself. After 11 or 12 years in business, Google has a giant footprint but it is now good at one thing: selling ads.

I think there are companies with better products in search. Example: I think there are companies with better social network services: I think there are companies with better mobile devices: Apple. I think there are companies with better online shopping: In short, unlike the early days, Google has competition in packaging, technology, and innovation.

So, the buzz about Google+ tells me three things:

  1. Google excites significant interest, particularly among a certain sector of the online community. That indeed is a marketing advantage. Marketing now has to turn into revenue. Where’s that $100 billion a year company now? About $70 billion to go.
  2. Google faces significant competition across a wide range of business facets. I suppose Alexander the Great could handle a multi front war, but he died at an early age, and his empire fizzled. I won’t press the metaphor, however.
  3. The legal opponents Google faces are likely to see the sprawl of Google as an indication of the company’s ambitions. At a time when issues of monopoly and certain business practices is increasing, Google demonstrates that it can pretty much do what it wants, dismissing questions with remarks like “a lot” and “test stuff”.

The upcoming hearings in Washington, DC, will be interesting. I wonder if there will be a Google+ service for those involved? I hope so. That might be a way to measure success just not in terms of revenue.

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2011

You can read more about enterprise search and retrieval in The New Landscape of Enterprise Search, published by Pandia in Oslo, Norway, in June 2011.


3 Responses to “Google+: How Does One Measure Success?”

  1. Maxime on July 10th, 2011 3:05 am

    What make you believe is better product in search?

  2. Frank on July 10th, 2011 9:18 am


    I have much enjoyed your blog over several years, and I thank you for your work! Lately however, I can’t help but notice that you have become in my opinion anti Google. It is one thing to not be a ra ra fan boy, but lately it seems that you are not overly fair and balanced. Maybe down in your duck pond in Kentucky that is how you see things, but up here in the Live Free or Die state, I see things a bit differently. Yes the GOOG might be a one trick revenue pony today, but it is the GOOG that has enabled us to push a button and ask the computer a question, and most of the time, get a pretty good answer. To me this is very cool, and quite useful It is the GOOG that brought this to us, not Yandex, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft……. (just one example of many in my humble opinion)


  3. Stephen E. Arnold on July 12th, 2011 9:13 am


    Hmmm. We just select items from open source. There are a number of writers producing content for Beyond Search and my other blogs. If you notice a shift, my hunch it is because the coverage of Google is moving in a different direction. I don’t have much feeling toward Google one way or another. It’s like any other vendor we cover. If you want to see how I express concern, take a look at the posts I directed at the Wall Street Journal spam marketing. Since I only point and comment, you should write to the people who produce the source items we cite. If you want a specific message in the blog, check out the About section. We sell coverage and, man, is that positive when the sponsors write stories. We don’t do news. We do a vertical file with sponsored content. We are not journalists. We are an information service which is available for free and you can read or not rad it as you wish.

    Stephen E Arnold, July 12, 2011

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