Google + Zynga = Profit?
A fascinating bit of news popped up this week (besides Hulu Plus being made available now for PlayStation Plus subscribers): Google has invested over a hundred million dollars in Zynga. This could prove a very interesting partnership for three key reasons.
Google gets access to Facebook
Google desperately wants a strong social network. Comany strategists probably been mailing Santa a list with this at the top for about three years now. And they were apparently naughty, as it's not going well for them. Facebook is here to stay, and even in the areas where Orkut, Google's social network offering, had a strong presence (for example, India), Facebook is taking over. Zynga's games claim access to a little over half of Facebook's user base. If Google can plug into Zynga, it can consequentially plug into Facebook -- it's a bit like a secret passage to social media nirvana. Google can't beat Facebook, but by enmeshing itself into Zynga's offerings, it can certainly join the party.
Armor up Android's Achilles Heel
The iPhone dominates Android in one key area: gaming. There's a handful of neat social games by Storm8 for Google's handsets, but overall the Android gaming experience is lackluster at best. One of the big moments at the recent iPhone press conference was Zynga's announcement of FarmVille for the iPhone. This is going to further push Android off the gaming map for casual/social game audiences. If Google can work with Zynga to port games over to Android, it's a win/win for both companies, with Google greatly strengthening the gaming offerings by creating a mobile extension to the highly addictive social games, and Zynga expanding its footprint in mobile.
Ads for Games
Did you know Google already has AdSense for games? Neither does Google apparently, as the page describing this offering was last updated in 2008. Zynga is listed as a publishing partner, and yet the marketing partners list is a bit... sparse. But the marketers I know are quite interested indeed in Zynga and their ilk. Clearly, there is an impasse. I think in Google's trademark "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks," technique, the AdSense for Games experiment just didn't have legs and was largely abandoned (and there were good reasons for that). But Google HAS to be looking at the media market and seeing the need to move into online games. So a partnership like this could create some interesting opportunities for more integrated ads served and sold by Google.