So, Now You Don’t Trust Google?

As a heavy Google Reader user and longtime Google skeptic, I have mixed feelings about the coming demise of Reader. On the one hand, I will miss it greatly. It’s how I keep up with, well, almost everything. There isn’t a service or app I use more. But I don’t share in the outrage and feelings of betrayal that seem to have washed over the mass of Reader users

I find the idea that people won’t use Google Keep because they can no longer trust Google to be particularly amusing. This “Google can’t be trusted” reaction, combined with the shock that Google would kill Reader without so much as a “by your leave,” makes me wonder what company they’ve been dealing with over the years. It certainly isn’t the Google I know.

Despite its growth into other areas, I’ve always seen Google as first and foremost an advertising and data business with a simple, two-part model. Part 1 is to offer free services that allow them to accumulate users whose eyeballs they offer up to advertisers on a pay-per-click or cost-per-thousand basis. Search and Adwords form the backbone of this enterprise.

Part 2 of the model is to collect data about those users which Google can then slice, dice and sell to advertisers at even higher rates. That’s why Google+ is so important to Google’s future. It allows the collection of very specific demographic data – including age, gender, location and interests – that is critical to the future success of the Adwords network, especially the Display network.

Almost everything else they offer is based either on keeping you in the Google ecosystem or getting more data about you. If it doesn’t support the model, it’s not going to last long. Reader didn’t support the model. It had a relatively small number of users and was difficult to monetize.

Keep, on the other hand, fits the model nicely. First, it uses Drive, so users are tied to Google two ways. Second, it’s data. Google may not “read” what you put into Keep, but they don’t “read” Gmail either and still find a way to “personalize” ads based on your email.

Still, there’s no guarantee that Google won’t kill Keep as they did Reader. Or that they won’t start charging for it. That’s just the risk you take with free services, especially Google’s free services.

About Lee Stral

Lee is a marketing consultant who has specialized in Internet marketing and Web site development since the Internet first showed promise as a marketing channel. Prior to founding Essential Presence, he was partner in an integrated marketing communications agency working with technology, professional service and non-profit organizations.