You are here

Google's "Pushmepullyou" Conflict: "Contextual Discovery"

Google's signaled change in its business model toward "contextual discovery," represents maybe the most overt and profound conflict of interest ever in Google's already massively-conflicted business model.


  • At Le Web in Paris, Google senior executive Marissa Mayer said (paraphrased by Techcrunch): "It is also contextual discovery. Take a users location as a piece of context for finding what they want without them actually searching for anything. We have a couple of things we are experimenting with, but it will be out in the next year."
  • Mayer went on to declare: "The idea is to push information to people."


So what's Google's "Pushmepullyou" conflict of interest?


  • (A Pushmepullyou is a mythical four-legged llama-like animal in the movie Dr. Doolittle that has two heads at each end facing in opposite directions. See here.)


Remember Google's search engine is a classic "pull" product and business. A user directs a search, and "pulls" in the requested results to their device.


  • Google has built its now monopoly search advertising business on being the most efficient site for users to direct searches of the web with the ostensible promise of objective and unbiased results.


Google's new "idea is to push information to people." ... "On the mobile phone, its where you are in the physical world. We can figure out where the next most useful information is. In a restaurant maybe its a menu. Or maybe its a social menu. Its about explicit and implicit location."


  • As Techcrunch's Arrington succinctly concluded: "it's Google results without the search."


So what's the conflict? Google is no longer about just the user pulling in the information they requested, its about Google pushing information to users that they did not request. Simply, the Google model is morphing from user-directed to increasingly more Google-directed.


  • Google's pending "Contextual Discovery" business line would not be the first of this new push model. Google Instant pushes results to users before a user even finishes typing the word(s) of the user's request.


And its not like this "Pushmepullyou" business conflict is not already a big problem for Google. The EU's antitrust investigation was prompted by the essence of this very push-pull conflict of interest in the Googleopoly model. (See page 25 for full explanation of "Why Google is Not an Honest Broker" in hiding multiple conflicts of interest.)


  • At core, the EU is concerned that Google is not allowing users to pull truly unbiased results as represented, but is pushing them Google's content first in the number one result position, and pushing their competitors' content down lower in the results where they won't be discovered contextually or otherwise.


This development is also highly relevant to Google's apparent failure to buy local advertising company Groupon for ~$6b. Reports suggest why the Google Groupon deal did not get done was that Groupon wanted the guarantee of a big break-up fee, if antitrust authorities were to block Google from acquiring Groupon.


  • Why did Groupon see big antitrust risk beyond the obvious EU antitrust investigation? Groupon obviously understands that Google sees Groupon as a turbocharger for Google to very rapidly dominate local push advertising by pushing it through its gargantuan global distribution network.
  • Think about it. Groupon has an email push list of ~35 million.
    • Google has a quarter of a billion gmail push list, a fifth of a billion YouTube viewer push list, a hundreds of million Android mobile push list, and a billion+ Google search profile push list.
  • Googleopoly has the largest distribution network for targeted advertising in the world -- by far.
    • Google now understands that if it can turn and repoint its monopoly locked-in model that was built of the trust of a user-directed pull advertising model, to also become a Google-directed push local advertising model, the online local advertising competition game would largely be over before it really started.


Google's new "contextual discovery" model also has big implications for privacy and the FTC staff's recent endorsement of the Do Not Track List.


  • At core Google's "contextual advertising" idea involves tracking users locations and integrating that location and time info with Google's profile on the user from their use of search or other Google products.
    • Simply, Google's contextual advertising plans could be described as "track-to-target-advertise" or "stalk-to-intimately-advertise."
  • In addition, to the obvious and profound "Pushmepullyou" business model conflict of contextual advertising, it also opens a veritable Pandora's Box of privacy conflicts of interest as well.

In sum, the concept of a user's Google cloud profile virtually following them around to be continually and instantly analyzed for opportunities to "push information" to users that they did not request, is like a creepy "virtual Google Butler" following one around to anticipate the user's next unthought possible desire.


  • This contextual discovery "virtual Google Butler" appears to be a logical extension of "Google Chauffeur," Google's idea for robotically-driven cars.