John Battelle provides a nice overview of the new additions to Google’s local search (and how these tweaks continue to move Google in a direction much different from Yahoo’s):
First, Google has integrated its broadly acclaimed Google Maps application, not a surprising move. Second, and more interestingly, Google has incoporated reviews. But unlike Yahoo, which allows for users to submit reviews at the point of search, Google crawls the web for reviews which are already extant, then rolls them into its results. Users cannot add their own reviews on the spot.
This is an important distinction, and yet another declaration of how Google differs from its competitors, in particular Yahoo … Blogger aside (and there’s plenty to say about the limitations of that platform), Google has always been uncomfortable with user created content, at least on its main site. While sites like Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo are full bore participants in the architecture of participation (AOP), Google prefers to lay an algorithm between user created content and its own search service. It’s still AOP, but it’s AOP once removed.
Even though I am a big proponent of user submitted content, I like Google’s strategy of being the searcher and collector of user created data that is typed in elsewhere on the web.
But how does Blogger fit into this model? Well, it’s never been clear to me that Blogger fits into Google’s model at all. If you are a blogger or a techno-deep thinker, you probably saw genius in Google’s decision to buy Blogger early on. I certainly did (and by now, you are all too familiar with my intellectual gifts). But time and evidence suggest that the acquisition of Blogger by Google was not part of some grand plan to use humans to help organize the web. It was about acquiring a technology with a lot of buzz and an effective team of developers.
The truth is that Yahoo should have made the acquisition. And they should make up for that lack of insight by buying SixApart right away. Yahoo is a media company. SixApart and Blogger provide a platform for the sharing of user created media.
But there’s more it than that.
With all of the hub-bub about this great battle to the death between bloggers and online newspapers, it is important to keep in mind one important factor: Bloggers drive a massive amount of traffic to newspapers. The water cooler around which newspaper readers once gathered has been recreated virtually. Ask any newspaper editor about their stories that have received an inordinate number of pageviews and I’d lay a major bet that those stories made their way around the blogosphere in a big way.
Soon, major media companies will begin to understand the amount of traffic that can be funneled to their sites and they will then see blogs as an effective marketing channel.
What does that have to do with Yahoo and SixApart? Yahoo, unlike Google, is truly a media company. They’ve been doing deals with all of the major media players since way back in the day. An acquisition of SixApart would give Yahoo direct access to the other side of this marketing equation.
Sooner than you think, mainstream media marketers will wake up to the fact that they want to get their content in front of bloggers for review and possible linkage. Plenty of individual writers already ping bloggers and suggest that they take a look at a recently posted story.
Yahoo, because of their ongoing relationship with media players, is in a unique position to make the marketing connection between big media and bloggers. Am I suggesting that blogger’s are going to sell out? Of course not. But I am suggesting that the media players should be able to pay to get their best stories in front of bloggers for review. Imagine a MyYahoo with a blog posting form and a series of stories that big media thinks are worthy of consideration by bloggers.
We’re in a room standing around the water cooler and you can pay to slide your best stuff under the door.
It might not look exactly like that. But blogs are more a part of the media universe than the poisoned splinter that will bring it to its knees. And Yahoo is in the perfect position to be right in the middle of the media universe, where user content and professional content both thrive. Yahoo gets media. And they are really starting to get the value of user created content as well.
This should happen. And all I’m asking for is a small finder’s fee.
Update: Looks like I’m not alone…