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Google Chrome: Pilot or Hijacker?

The Frenemy Gets Frenemier

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Digital Marketing / Google / Press / Press Mentions

Google Chrome




Just over a week ago, it was reported that Sony would start pre-loading Google Chrome as the default browser on all new Vaios shipping in the US.

MediaPost covered the story and its implications on the search space. I shared my POV in the article and will expand on it a bit here after the excerpt...
Could Sony's deal influence the search engine wars? Aaron Goldman, founder and managing partner at Connectual, says "Yes, absolutely."

If Chrome is the default browser, Google will likely become the person's default search engine, according to Goldman. "The address bar and search bar are integrated, so as you type Google gives you options for URL and search queries based on past searches," he says. "That sort of browsing experience, which integrates search and direct navigation, only leads to more queries."

The deal should stimulate more queries, via Google, and that's how the search engine can afford to offer another free product, Goldman says. "Every product Google puts out stimulates more queries," he says. "And Google knows, because of its market share, every query performed puts dollars in its pocket."
As you can see in these screenshots, on Google Chrome, the address bar and search box are one and the same. There's even a call-to-action (not pictured) at the right of the bar encouraging you to "type to search."

Google Chevrolet









So, what happens when you start typing "chevrolet" on Google Chrome? The defaulted command -- if you just hit enter -- is to "Search Google for "chevrolet." In fact, out of the five options presented by Google Chrome, only one takes you to the website you were likely navigating to as you began to type chevrolet -- assuming, that is, your intent was to go to

Google Chrome is very clearly reinforcing the habit of using search as a means of navigation. Now, some folks may look at this as Google simply helping pilot the web-user to a point-of-interest by means of stopover or detour. Others -- like say, Rupert Murdoch -- view this as Google hijacking web-users and steering them away from their intended destination while collecting a toll along the way.

One thing's for sure. By "refining" the web browsing experience, Google is driving more queries and, in turn, more search advertising revenue. I touched on this thread in a previous post on my digital marketing blog -- "Google Chrome Operating System: It's All About the Queries, Baby!"

From a user-perspective, I like the functionality of the Chrome search/address bar. More often than not, I've found myself navigating to the site I originally intended but every now and then I'm swayed by an interesting link or suggested query that I hadn't been thinking of -- or even known existed. However, I'm certainly in the upper-echelon of web-savvy surfers. My guess is that, in the Chevrolet example, as many people will click on the defaulted search command as will continue typing In turn, they'll click on the Chevy ad atop the resulting SERP, putting a quarter or two in Google's pocket. Sure, Chevrolet still captures the qualified click but it has to pay for it.

Think about other ways this could play out. Someone looking to visit starts typing in the URL only to see other options for "Dell Deals" or "Dell Locations" steering them AWAY from to other retailers selling Dell products. Now, Dell still may see one of its machines fly off the shelves but now it has to absorb extra marginal costs through a channel partner.

So, to all you future Sony Vaio owners looking for helpful Internet wayfinding tools... you won't have to go far! Surfing the web is no longer a chrome-agnum activity of typing URL after URL or even going to a search engine.

But to all you marketers who think Google set the gold standard for chutzpah by profiting from your trademarks and all you publishers who think Google is stealing your pot of gold at the end of the web by profiting from your content... it's time to upgrade your concern to chrome.


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