Google pulling Smart Tags Caper with Toolbar

15 comments
Thread Title:
Google Emulates Microsoft, Uh Oh
Thread Description:

Dan Gillmor points out, as have a few others, that the new toolbar from Google is emulating the old Smart Tags scheme M$ had to back away from a while back.

No, Google doesn't control the operating system, and if I understand this correctly the feature isn't turned on by default (please correct me if this is not the case). Moreover, it only works with certain kinds of terms, and you have to explictly download the toolbar in the first place. And, of course, no one has to use this -- one more reason to choose Firefox as your browser, anyway.

All of those caveats aside, it's still a bad idea, and an unfortunate move by a company that is looking to continue its hypergrowth. With its enormous market share in search, Google is starting to act in ways that are reminiscent of our favorite monopolist. As Dave Winer observes, this is near enough to changing Web content as to be worrisome.

Gary Price said on "auto link":

This might not only be useful to you but the commercial possibilities are massive. With "AutoLink" enabled, web pages will be "enhanced" with additional links if Google thinks additional information might be helpful. For example, say your browsing a web page with numerous addresses on it. AutoLink will turn each of those addresses into direct links to the Google Maps database. Google currently offers AutoLinks for the following info (if it's recognized on the web page your looking at or found in other material your viewing in your browser):

and microsoft-watch chimes in with:

Circling back to Michael's question, should there be a red flag raised over Google's seemingly similar tact? Yes--and Google has taken some criticism for mixing Web and desktop search results. At least with Microsoft's approach, Smart Tags could have been used to drive traffic to partner Websites, not just the company's own Internet properties.

I see the bigger issue as something else: Because of negative reaction, spurred on by the news media, Microsoft executives decided to remove from Internet Explorer a highly useful information technology. At the time, Microsoft's U.S. antitrust had reached a critical juncture, and so the company had good reason to exercise caution around the browser.

As can see, a real debate seems to be brewing over the new toolbar...

Comments

AdTags?

Maybe I misunderstand the concept, but it sounds like a door opening to "AdWare-type" features?

If so, would this mean that Google are looking to develop embedded link AdSense publishing, very much in the lines of the text link advertising Vibrant Media use, such as applied on SEOchat articles?

The power of reputation

Dana has an excellent post here about how Google will most likely get away with this because they are, at least for now, endowed with great reputation.

and yeah brian, i think that's the big suspicion for sure...

Do no evil?

Wasn't that what they were on about here not long back? Hmmm.

Reputations change

Veterans will remember when AltaVista and Infoseek were everyone's darlings.

Kazaa and Top Text?

Isn't this also like Top Text and Ezula that was being spread by Kazaa a few years ago?

Revenue

Autolink will fly if Google don't make the same mistake that all those others made: not sharing revenue with publishers. If they share revenue, and make it opt-in, I can't see it being that much different than AdSense. However, if this tool changes content, as Winer points out: http://archive.scripting.com/2005/02/17#When:5:55:35AM without the authorisation of the publisher, then Google are making a big, stupid mistake. Note: I haven't tried it either. Me Firefox.

opt-in revenue stream

:-) that changes everything.

Opt-in

Would only be fair if has opt-in by the content owner (each site has to sign up to it), rendering it to not work on 99% of the web. Pretty useless in that case? If they use a robots.txt sort of solution or no way of opt in/out then this is evil IMO.

Oooooh....this is interesting..

When I first read this thead, I thougth MS brought smarttags back. But Google doing it? That is interesting indeed.

I downloaded new toolbar

And cant find this feature - only for our US friends?

it does work in UK

but it didn't like installing for me to start. I tried it again this morning and it would.

It's a nightmare IMO and it's got people really wound up (even at SG and lets face it very little winds our guys up :) ) GG if you're reading we have some questions for you

Ahh.. I will try again

From the download page

Quote:
AutoLink (US only)

A question?

Do the links generated open in new a window or the same window? I hope it's a new window. Otherwise I wouldn't be too impressed with G robbing my visitors!

same window

but it's OK because G aren't being paid, it's all a public service. :)

It's not ok really...

It's not whether they get paid for the links or not. It's the fact that your visitors have more links away from your site.

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