There is a sword-fighting scene in Princess Bride between the “The Man in Black” and Inigo Montoya. A few minutes into the scene, after the two men have been fighting for a bit (while talking quite a bit), there is a dialogue between them.
Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful.
Man in Black: Thank you; I’ve worked hard to become so.
Inigo Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo Montoya: Because I know something you don’t know.
Man in Black: And what is that?
Inigo Montoya: I am not left-handed.
Man in Black: You are amazing.
Inigo Montoya: I ought to be, after 20 years.
Man in Black: Oh, there’s something I ought to tell you.
Inigo Montoya: Tell me.
Man in Black: I’m not left-handed either.
Today, Google is undeniably an incredibly powerful and successful company. But, I think they’re playing with us.
They’re not telling us something. Google could make almost all advertising (and much of marketing generally) redundant.
But, they haven’t yet.
When we want to make a decision (about almost anything), we ask Google.
How do I find/fix/improve/replace/upgrade/sell my product/home/car/job/school/investment/significant other? Ask Google.
Where should we go? Ask Google.
What should we do? Ask Google.
Even when we don’t intentionally ask Google, we’re often asking Google. Most browsers default to Google, not only for search, but for re-directing to a website.
Many people (most?) get to websites not by typing actual URLs (i.e. http://www.medium.com) but by typing just the domain (i.e. medium) in their devices.
Google does the rest. Even on Apple devices.
Even more on Android/Chrome devices.
We don’t just ask Google about nearly everything, but Google knows even more about us from social media, blog posts, online profiles (LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook, etc) from their search indexing. They also know where/when we go and who we’re there with.
Google now knows (most of the time):
- What we’ve bought
- What we’re actively researching or buying and the words/phrases we use to find them
- What we’re likely to buy soon
- What we’ll need to buy now, later today, tomorrow and so forth based on where we are, who we are, where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing
- Lots and lots about who we are — how much money we spend, what we do for a living, demographic data (age, gender, religion, income, education, etc), where we live, who our friends are, what we do outside of work, who we vote(d) for, what tv/podcasts/music/entertainment we consume, etc
Google also knows how all of these things have changed over time. This allows them to find trends and predict behavior at an individual and aggregate level.
In other words, Google already knows everything that Marketers (and Investors) wish they could know.
Here is my hypothesis:
At some point, Google will become the ONLY cost effective platform to find, attract and transact with customers (and maybe voters, investors, employers/employees, friends, etc).
They have the trifecta:
- They know (almost) everything about us — as consumers, as demographic groups and as individuals — over time
- They are where we already turn to start the process of finding and procuring almost everything (or making any big decisions) and they’re with us almost everywhere
- They can predict (probably better than any company in history) what else we will do/buy
I believe that no company (or entity) in history has known even 1/10th as much about us as people and consumers.
I’m sure they have lots of dot connecting yet to do. However, with artificial intelligence, loads of talent, even more cash and (so far) our permission, they’ve got a good shot at pulling it off.
I’m not sure what happens then.
What else could they own? Elections? Investments?