A Googolplex Ways to Make Moolah

You didn’t think that Google would profit from your data only in the regular ol’ selling-to-third-parties way, did you?

Of course you didn’t!

Google is now using it to make a big splash in the giant market research money pool. If you’re not in market research, your reaction might be something like: Um, ok??

If you don’t care about market research, why should you care about this news? Because it’s yet another example of Google’s reach into more and more sectors of our economy.

Here’s how the market research product works:

They target market research respondents (for those of you not in this industry, think about the people with clipboards who might approach you in the mall, or the amusement park, or in my case recently, the nature and science museum) using all their “inferred demographic data.” That is, everything they know about you from reading your Gmails and your YouTube and Chrome searches and whatever else they must know about you. (And presumably those new privacy policies are feeding into this: making me thump my head with an embarrassingly late understanding about their motives.)

So then they offer those respondents access to firewalled content in exchange for their answering short market research questions. The content providers make some money off the exchange, the respondents get access to some cool content, and the clients get a statistically significant answer to their burning business questions.

I haven’t seen many people outside the market research world talking about this, which is why I’m writing about it.

To me, it’s an astonishing move by Google into ever-more moneymaking industries. But I’m easily astonished. If I were Google, with my hand in ALL THAT DATA, I’d want to monetize it in as many ways possible–till Congress tells me to stop. So of course they’re going into market research. One wonders what else they’ll do with it.

But Google’s control over so many sectors of our lives is really incredible: they give us ways to connect with each other (Gmail, Android), they give us all the content we want to share (YouTube, Chrome, GoogleBooks, etc.), they give their ad partners all our information, and now they connect the content providers with the retailers who want to learn even more about us, with our permission.

I know that much, much more money will continue to circulate in the B2B space, not the consumer entertainment/electronics/retail purchasing space. But with this market research product, Google is slowly creeping into there too.

I saw the best minds of my generation find in the starry dynamo new ways to make hysterical money.

It’s dizzying.

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2 thoughts on “A Googolplex Ways to Make Moolah

  1. Inder says:

    As you know, I have been burned by Google (when they deactivated my email, my blog, and my phone, all in one horrible day, due to reasons that they were very sorry they could not disclose, WTF?) but I remain depressingly Google-dependent, because their stuff really does pretty much rock.

    But do you think that as Google expands and explands, it will become bloated and inefficient, much like the Roman Empire in its declining days? (Whether or not orgies and luxurious baths will be involved, I cannot say – but I hear the food there is awesome.) Because that is what I foresee for them … in taking on too much, they risk bogging themselves down, losing their technological “edge” and youthful exuberance, and becoming old and stodgy, like their Microsoft and IBM forbears. Hm. Just wondering.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I think in some ways, that has already happened. It is a consequence of a culture of “cool,” where a major part of the brand value proposition (as they say in marketing) is cool edginess. One of my professors in grad school wrote a book about this. Anyway, if you build a brand based on “cool,” the brand will inevitably fade, and you need to rebrand–Google has this locked, based on functionality. As you say. Extreme, superior functionality. But their privacy issues, and their horizontal expansions, may indeed be their downfall. I’m interested to see what happens!

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