The question of whether or not Google is a media company was one of the central themes of the Siklos article. As many of you know, Google is steadfast in its denials that it is a media company, a position which I've challenged in this column before. The way I see it, Google's role relative to content creators and content companies is not unlike the role that publishers, media networks, or syndicates play relative to editorial staffs in traditional media. Google controls the revenue in its partnerships. The company can hire, fire, or replace content providers in its network at will, just as publishers do with their editors, reporters, and correspondents. Google unilaterally sets and adjusts the revenue splits for the vast majority of its network publishers. It is in charge.
This position of revenue stream control for so many content companies is what has gotten the attention of other commentators. Robert Young of GigaOm penned a very insightful piece about Google last week. In the article, he argued that Google is well down the path to controlling the marketplace for buying and selling all advertising--controlling advertising's operating system--much the way that Microsoft took control of the operating system for personal computers and personal computing software.
Is that what is going on here? Is Google on the verge of controlling the OS of advertising? I don't think so. I don't think that this self-proclaimed "non-media company" is anywhere near that yet. However, I do believe that the company is well on its way to becoming the media industry's MOST DOMINANT publisher. They certainly aspire to control the distribution, packaging and monetization of the world's content.
Might this position be eventually extended to an operating system-like dominance in the entire advertising eco-system and all of its delivery systems and device? I don't think so, at least not for a long time. Of course, I think that it was just last week that Google's Schmidt also said that he believes that mobile advertising will become so powerful that mobile phone and mobile phone services will be free, subsidized by advertising. Subsidized by Google advertising, I imagine :)
How will this all play out? Will we find ourselves in the future talking to our friends on our Google phones while watching GoogleBoxOffice dramas - you know, "It's Not Television, it's GBO"--on our Google TVs while listening to recent cuts from UGoogle2, the hot Irish band, on our GooglePods? Imagining it certainly makes for good theater. What do you think?