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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Google: Media Company? 

My friend Rex Hammock doesn't think Google is a media company.

Others do.

I think this is the wrong question. Google may or may not be a media company, but its impact on current media company business models is undeniable, and mostly difficult to predict over the next five years. Google doesn't pay for content creation, doesn't field teams of editors, reporters, scholars and pundits. But Google generates income from that content, adding value through search and aggregation, and sharing only a small bit with content owners and creators (via AdSense).

I think the critical question is: How does the Google model affect media in general? In a world where content is becoming increasingly free, and ad blocking is becoming de rigeur, how do media companies generate enough income to continue to produce content and a profit?

In some ways, Google reminds me of the spider who procreates and then consumes its mate. So if Google isn't a media company now, it will have to become one to sustain itself, since its content mates may be dying off, one Google ad at a time.

Side Note: Media hasn't had a free enterprise business model for all that long, in the great scheme of things. Will media creation return to its roots, produced only by those with wealth and leisure time, or with a patron? Will sponsored content become the norm, as it was in the early days of television? Will a completely new business model emerge for the next generation of content creation and delivery? (To this last question, I answer yes, and wish I knew what that model was going to look like. I'd be rich, I tell ya, rich!)

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