8 bold predictions on Google's next moves

Insiders offer their insights on the Internet behemoth.

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What better way to tout a high-profile company than to advertise during a high-profile sporting event? Look for Google to run a feel-good commercial plugging its virtues during a future Super Bowl. "We might see their first entry into true advertising," says Rand Fishkin, president and CEO of SEOmoz, a search engine optimization firm in Seattle. "They have observed what Microsoft has done [in TV ads]. It can make an impact."

A commercial depicting Google as making the world a better place might help its image, Enderle suggests. "They're reaching a scale much like Microsoft did a decade ago, where people were getting very concerned about their motives and power," he says. "That's when you need an overarching brand campaign to make people more comfortable with who you are and where you're going."

4. Google Buys an Ad Agency

A Google ad campaign might even spark a play for one of the world's best advertising agencies. "There are a lot of folks that would love to have that Budweiser ad team, Enderle says. "With the amount of money that Google's got, they could probably do it. Google is positioning itself as an überagency anyway; I wouldn't be surprised if they bought an ad agency."

5. Google Applications Finally Take Off

Google has had relatively little success in getting users to adopt services outside of its core search offering. Less than 5% of Google's users use its home page for anything other than search, says Peter Hershberg, managing partner at Reprise Media, a search engine marketing firm in New York. But that will change in 2008, when Google is reportedly set to launch its gPhone.

"This may be the true rationale behind the launch of mobile gPhones -- which is convenience," Hershberg says. "The gPhone will undoubtedly have out-of-the-box integration with every Google application that's out there. The value in having all that information under the Google cloud in your pocket at any time may be the reason why people finally start to adopt these applications."

Users could sit in a doctor's office and pull up their medical records. Or they could use the phone to check out at a retailer rather than carrying credit cards. With Bluetooth technology, users could beam presentations and documents to desktop computers from their phones without carrying storage. They could upload mobile pictures to Picasa, Google's photo software, and blog directly to Blogger from their phones. "It will integrate all of these services together," Hershberg says.

Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick Inc. will drive its application strategy even further, he adds. "When the DoubleClick acquisition closes, then they've got a real targeting layer to put on top of everything else, where they'll have demographic information, your IP address and the level of specificity where ad-targeting becomes that much more sophisticated as well." 6. Google Offers Local Reviews

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