Will Google create the right Buzz?

Not content with being king of search, Google seems to be looking to be king of online. News broke this week confirming it was eyeing up high-speed broadband in the US and a new attempt at social media with Buzz. But will this new concerted effort offer marketers a new form of engagement or is just a new assault on the market?

According to Google, integrating your Google Mail e-mails with networking, offers users the sanctity of having everything in one place.

Google’s vice-president of product management, Bradley Horowitz, says: “It’s becoming harder and harder to make sense and find the signal in the noise.”

Yet for marketers, being heard making that noise is essential for business and the purpose of the internet is to be present in all places where noise is being made – so would having everything in one place really work? Somehow, I don’t think it will.

The promotion that Buzz users are presented with when they log into Gmail reads: “Share updates, photos, videos and more. Start conversations about the things that you find interesting.”

Strip away the Google elements to the page, and the natural instinct is to think Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn.

Indeed, this time last year, Google had appeared to concede defeat by cutting 100 jobs across the organisation in a bid to cut costs and by terminating, stopping development on, or restricting access to six products – Catalog Search, Dodgeball, Jaiku, Mashup Editor, Notebook and Video.

Marketers I have spoken to are naturally intrigued by Google’s new product and point out that it adds stretch to where they can place their search advertising.

However, they doubt it will have the in-depth highly targeted capabilities of the top sites, such as Facebook, which has over 400 million members worldwide, and is continuing to enhance its engagement-based advertising platform to the excitement of many media observers.

Comparatively, Gmail has only recently come out of beta mode and has just 176 million monthly unique users, according to ComScore. Google is now allowing third-parties to develop plug-ins for Buzz by opening up its application programming interface (API).

It will be interesting to see how Buzz develops over the coming months. At frst glance, it seems complex and strange to me, but having seen Facebook trial so many layouts, that’s hardly surprising.

The litmus test for advertisers going forward will be to see how they start to respond to it, and how Google leverage its expertise in search algorithms to have them advertising across the ever-expanding Google territory. Watch this space.

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