Monday, January 11, 2010
You may wonder why Google stock is so expensive ($598.58/share as of last Friday; compare YAHOO at $16.59/share). Ken Auletta’s new book Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, gives us a clue. A major clue.
This year, it is expected that Google’s gross advertising revenues will exceed twenty billion dollars. In our world of bank bailouts and auto-industry turmoil, that number may not get your attention. What is stunning is this: Google’s income from advertising sales is more than the total take of the television networks prime time revenues, that’s CBS, NBC, ABC, combined. Now that Google owns YouTube, Eric Schmidt, Google’s enthusiastic CEO, tells the author that Google is scheduled to be the first one hundred billion dollar media company in history.
No wonder NBC execs are all shook up. It’s much more than Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian and the losing battle to keep up with CBS crime shows. NBC is in frantic pursuit of more of that television market share. But that share is dwindling rapidly. Advertising dollars are drying up. More and more of us are looking somewhere else for entertainment and information.
Like you, I access Google multiple times a day. I research and write. And now I have Google in my pocket. In fact, I don’t even need to type in the text for my search. I speak it. (There’s an app for that.) It’s free. Well, apparently not. Come to think of it, someone is paying.
Television shows are free, too, right? Well, not really. Advertisers shell out. But thanks to my digital recorder, I routinely fast forward through the commercials. I’ve become a commercial illiterate. I hear some of them are pretty good, but I wouldn’t know.
All this helps me understand why the traditional media is facing such unprecedented upheaval. Newspapers, book publishers, print magazines are in retreat mode; right along with the major television networks. For a long time, we believed that the big three networks were too powerful. Then it was Microsoft. Now it is Google.
I’m certainly not qualified to call myself a futurist, but I’ll give it a try anyway as we begin a new decade. I like to think the whole trend gives rise to a new sort of democratization.
The affable Charles Osgood, sporting his bowtie, suggests on CBS Sunday Morning that we Americans have come this far because of our creativity. We are irrepressible. It stems from our egalitarian notions about freedom. We demand progress. We reward innovation. We celebrate new solutions. We promote the entrepreneur who finds new products and services that meet needs.
So we have access to the tools of creativity that make us less dependent on the old institutions that once controlled the process. It was once well beyond our reach. Not anymore. To use a new cliché, we are empowered.
So today, on this Monday morning, let’s dream big. There are open doors all around us.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp, 2010