A Conversation With Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Aug 9, 2006 • 1:53 pm | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2006 San Jose

Danny walked up to the stage with Eric. They are broadcasting this live, so the podcast will be archived also for later.

Q: He asked him about Eric saying don't bet against the Internet. Danny asked who is betting against the Internet? A: Eric first thanked everyone for coming and asked if everyone enjoyed the party. He then answers the questions. 20 years ago people were involved in the PC client model. What is interesting is that there was a business model built by Oracle to sell this stuff. There is a new model emerging, and people do not understand how big this opportunity is. "Cloud computing" If they have the right type of access, you can get access to these applications, from any device. This is the same talk he gave in this room ten years ago about the "network computer." In the past ten years, AJAX, LAMP came out and now we have it, and we also had the development of advertising. There is a new business model to fund this work, to enabled people access to these solutions. Often lot of people are still doing this the old way. Proprietary software versus open standards.

Q: Danny brings the NY Times up about the woman who was found via token data from the AOL slip up. He said there are tons of privacy issues. What do you do to protect this? Government taking it, accidents, etc.... A: This is obviously a terrible thing. The data was not anonymized and it was a mistake. If Google were to make this mistake, it would be a terrible thing. They have lots and lots of systems to prevent this from happening at Google. They don't share everything in Google with everyone in Google. He describes a case where the government gave Google a subpoena that was over-broad, and they fought it in court. They take is so seriously that they fight it in court.

Q: Will Google destroy data they have? A: Eric said they had this debate in Google. But they are take steps to prevent issues.

Q: He then asks about people using search engines to find details about people, public information out there. Are search engines pulling back to make this information harder to get? It is not directly a search engine issue, but.... A: He gives an example of an issue with this and that there are criminals, evil and bad people in this world. Google would be very concerned if data found on Google would hurt someone. They try to not index credit card numbers. He said Google made it easy for you to delete a phone number from the index. It is harder for things such as home addresses. The solution is that Google is an aggregator of information, and the publisher is the one publishing this information. He cites an example of an abortion hate site listing names, etc. of numbers of people who are pro.

Q: Would Google remove that site from the index? A: They thought about it but thank god the sites dont rank well, since there arent so many crazy people in the world compared to the whole. But overall Google tries to do more good then bad.

Q: Transparency of Google, specifically Google must know the click fraud numbers but they don't publish the rate. A: Last week they released a report to show click fraud numbers for each advertiser.

Q: Danny cites a forum thing where Google would not detail the information of the exchange rate used for AdWords. A: Eric said he is sure they can address that specific case (good news for those advertisers).

Q: How much money is going into search versus content ads? When those figures are mixed it is hard to figure out if there are issues there. A: Don't worry, there is no bubble with either contextual or search ads. They are both doing well. They historically did not want to give out detailed information because (1) competitive reasons and (2) they don't want to give out information that may be assumed or misconstrued.

Q: Do you think that may change with adding more channels? TV, Radio ads? A: It could. Google is more focused from the advertisers questions versus the analysts questions. They want to give the advertiser the data they want. They are less concerned about answering analysts question (cool statement).

Q: Search ads, contextual ads, then image ads, now radio ads and soon tv? A: Radio thing is coming and they are also moving into new areas. (1) Video ads to video content ON THE WEB (that we knew, i.e. MTV deal) and (2) with MySpace with nearly a 100M users, it is a whole new category people, it is an opportunity to advertisers to reach an audience you are not reaching today.

Q: We are looking for measurable ads. With radio and TV, the metrics are laughable. A: Remember these are early days. Targeted measurable tv and radio ads are starting now. We are thinking about using our ad system for every form of advertising. Because it is a big opportunity to provide value to both advertisers and consumers (more targeted ads to you). One of the outcomes, if they do this right, is that you should end up with fewer but more relevant ads, in more context. Google's analysis says they have a "good shot at this."

Q: Why are search engines now working together? What changed? A: It has always been our goal to work together. It is in all of our individual interests for SEs to talk with each other. Specifically with click fraud, standardization of ad formats, etc.

Q: AdSense is this huge boom for publishers... But there is a lot of junk out of the Web. You need to fight to keep this stuff out of organic and paid listings. Should Google be stomping down harder? A: These are signs of success, it has been far more successful before. A lot of people who were unable to make money to do their sites, now have this money. Overall it has been a great outcome. Of course, with anything like this you have abuses. They anticipate for this and they have algorithms for it. But they can never do everything. But they continue to work towards getting it better.

Q: The way I dialog with search engines is boring. Simple, plain, etc. A: Eric said people like that. Q: What is the next big thing? A: Many people are happy with the simple Google search. They also have a personalized version of Google (IGoogle), that has RSS, gadgets, etc. It is possible to take this and give yourself a uniquely more complex version of search. Second answer is that people are taking Google search and embedding it into their portals and online communities. So you will have these choices to pick from and people will choose what they like best.

Q: Google's claim to fain was link analysis. Link economy has grown out of that. But is it too late? A: Google's fundamental goal is to drive the most relevant search result. They want the perfect result. So they would make a decision on those technical questions based on that goal. We have many new ideas, on how they can used non link based solutions. The precise formula is only known by a few people in Google.

Q: Ecosystem question.. A: Google has to be careful about launching products that may step on people's rights, also it may be costly in terms of legal costs. Most legal cases are business negotiations done in a court room, that is his personal opinion and he hates to say that. They have to respect the copyright owners. The fair use law is not as crisply defined as you might want. In Google's case, the library work they are doing, being that they do not reproduce the whole book, and just have a snippet, that is good, in Google's opinion.

Q: Google is giving us everything, just give us the Google implant and ... A: Eric said we are working on that, do you want to be the beta user? Q: How do you keep people from fearing you? A: That is why Google is trying to be more transparent. These products are coming out because they want to solve the problem with data online. The test they apply is does it fundamentally effect a users online experience in a positive manner. Our primary goal is not about making money with these new products, but making their users more happy online. Google is one click away from searchers going to a new search engine. So they try to address this by solving the end user experience.

Q: Do you ever say you Google anything? A: Cant say for legal reasons.

Q: How often do you personalize your search? A: Thousands of times per day.

Q: When was the last time you clicked on an ad at Google? A: All the time, he buys a lot online. He then plugged Google Checkout.

Q: What is your favorite Google product? A: I use Google search the most but the most interesting one now is the Google certified buyer.

Q&A from audience? Q: Will (searchers) users be able to control their click stream data? A: He said that is a smart idea. They are already doing some of that.

Q: Someone asks about how algorithms are not good at user intent. A: Eric talks about Google Co-op (topic links). Your question is at the root of where does algorithmic search goes. Even with search history, etc. they still dont have enough information.

Q: What is your current thought on eBay's response to Google Checkout? A: eBay would have to comment on that. They are a good partner with Google. They told eBay that they want to integrate with PayPal. But he doesnt know the details.

Q: Rand asks, The trust people place in your queries. A: I am not sure there is confusion with this? Google is not a truth machine. They do the best job they can. They dont think they will get the perfect answer but they keep trying.

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