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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Practical Reasons for Google to Acquire AOL

It's natural to speculate on the bigger implications of talks between Microsoft and AOL, on one hand, and Google + Comcast and AOL, on the other. On this front, and Google's potential to enter into the business strategy chess game (or poker game, if you wish) it's previously shunned in favor of building better products, John Battelle has it about right.

Once again, though, it's useful to point out that until the future falls into place, Google's an advertising-driven company with specific problems it would like to solve. One of those problems is with the extent of geotargeting and behavioral targeting that are possible with its current user base. Gaining more direct access to users (via AOL and a friendship with a company like Comcast) cannot be a bad thing for such a company. It also must think about global expansion and the way that assets are arranged in various international markets. AOL has a decent footprint internationally. (It's not like Google can buy MSN or Yahoo.)

I speculate on a couple of other reasons Google might be interested in AOL in a post I just sent to Detlev Johnson's new SearchReturn newsletter. (If Detlev publishes the post, it will be Tuesday, so I guess it could look silly by then!) This is an email-based discussion forum that looks and feels exactly like the old I-Search Digest, the one moderated by (in turn) Marshall Simmonds, Detlev, and yours truly. Many readers will recall that I recently revived the spirit of now-defunct I-Search in a new platform at Google Groups, in a discussion forum called SEM 2.0, which is percolating along nicely. I also like SearchReturn, with its old-school look and feel, and the intelligent posts (thus far). So for the few and the proud, the diehard SEM fanatics who have intelligent thoughts but don't usually share them... I recommend SearchReturn. Great job Detlev, it's looking like happy days are here again!

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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