It’s still a frugal site – but minus Froogle.
Google – the search engine famed for its simple, uncluttered homepage – made an almost imperceptible change to that page last Wednesday.
It replaced the link to Froogle – its popular online price comparison service – with one to Google Video, where amateur spoof videos (including one of a well-endowed Jackie Guerrido, the weather girl from Univision) share space with clips from Comedy Central.
On the face of it, this seemingly minor tweak is likely to have – correct that, is already having – a really major impact.
Links on Google’s home page aren’t changed very often, so this particular revision was a fabulous opportunity for some tall foreheads to study the reach and clout of that page.
One such quick, but insightful analysis was done by Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise Pty. Ltd., the New York-based provider of online competitive intelligence services.
His chart indicated Google Video’s traffic on August 9 – the day the link was introduced on the home page – had more than doubled.
“From another perspective, I looked at the percentage traffic Google’s home page sent to the Video page before and after the link change,” Tancer wrote in his blog.
He said the numbers indicated that Google Video’s traffic from the homepage “surged from 50 per cent to 70 per cent in a single day.”
The change also affected the position of the two services in the Google pecking order. While Google Video moved to the number 5 position, Froogle dropped from number 5 to number 7.
As a link on the Google home page is undoubtedly one of the most potent marketing channels in the world, is there some significance to this switch?
“This is Google’s biggest move to date to make citizen’s media accessible to its broad global audience,” wrote marketing expert Steve Rubel in his Micro Persuasion weblog. Rubel, senior vice-president with global PR firm Edelman, was one of the first to notice and comment on the Froogle episode.
Rubel’s right. But beyond any philanthropic motives Google may have, the elevation of Google Video is also a powerful statement on the rising importance of video on the Net, specifically video as the next big revenue-generating tool.
In that context, the Froogle affair ties in with another announcement made earlier this month – that Google would distribute MTV Networks’ ad-supported videos across the AdSense network. Currently, AdSense mainly handles text and graphic-oriented brand advertising.
If the MTV venture proves successful – and there’s every indication it will – it could serve as a new Web-based video delivery paradigm, one that could be emulated by other search engines looking for ways to translate the viral popularity of online videos into profit.
As for Froogle, one big reason why it was sidelined may have to do with its relatively unimpressive performance.
As a price comparison service, Froogle is unique in that it neither chages fees for listings, nor accepts payments for products to show up first. Revenue is not generated through sales commissions but through advertising space, available for purchase and displayed in Froogle as an AdWords ad (much like on other parts of the Google network).
Despite its many cool features though, Froogle’s performance has been unimpressive, to say the least.
In July the site drew around 6.6 million unique visitors, way less than Shopzilla.com, which racked up 17.2 million visitors or even and Yahoo’s shopping network with 11.1 million visitors, according to data from Nielsen/NetRatings.
Until recently, Google Video site wasn’t doing great either. For instance, last month around 9.3 million people visited the site as compared with 30.5 million who visited YouTube, according to data from Nielsen/NetRatings.
Will a link on the home page provide the much needed boost to Google Video?
To quote the title of an episode in the 1996 soap 7th Heaven: “Just You Wait and See.”