The Search – John Battelle

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our CultureJohn Battelle, co-fondateur de Wired, présente l’univers du search, des moteurs de recherche et des liens sponsorisés dans son livre: The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

Qu’est-ce que le search? Comment fonctionnent les moteurs de recherche? Quels en sont les enjeux, les grandes découvertes, et les nouvelles perspectives? Une grande part du livre est consacrée à l’histoire déjà riche des moteurs de recherche et permet d’avoir une perspective historique globale, à la fois sur les moteurs de recherche et sur leur monétisation.

Sur les moteurs de recherche: de Gopher à Google, en passant par Altavista, John Battelle explique le fonctionnement général des moteurs de recherche, les différents concepts permettant de trouver les pages sur le net, les indexer, et les trier de façon pertinente. Sont également évoquées les problématiques techniques, notamment les (immenses) ressources nécessaires à un moteur de recherche de qualité, capable d’indexer et de trier une gigantesque quantité de documents, tout en assurant une fraîcheur de l’information suffisante aux nombreux internautes effectuant leurs recherches en ligne.

L’auteur montre également que malgré les progrès accomplis, les moteurs de recherche restent encore très limités: une grande majorité des utilisateurs trouvent que les moteurs répondent mal à leurs requêtes, et les contenus indexés se limitent essentiellement au texte (un peu d’images, et à peine de la vidéo et de l’audio). Il y a donc encore énormément de potentiel de développement pour les acteurs existants et pour de nouveaux entrants.

Sur la monétisation: John Battelle présente un aspect moins connu du monde des moteurs de recherche: leur monétisation et la génération de revenus, afin de supporter les coûts faramineux, et bien sûr d’en faire des entreprises profitables. Ainsi, après avoir évoqué les modèles traditionnels de publicité et de référencement payant, l’auteur présente la genèse et le développement du modèle du CPC avec les liens sponsorisés. De GoTo à Google, il présente les différentes stratégies qui ont permis d’affiner et d’imposer ce modèle comme le facteur de succès incontournable des moteurs de recherche (>99% des revenus de Google proviennent de ces liens sponsorisés).

Le succès et l’excellente performance des liens sponsorisés s’expliquent par le fait que la publicité est ciblée en fonction de l’intention de l’utilisateur. L’utilisateur fournit un ensemble de mots-clés qui décrivent plus ou moins bien ce qu’il cherche, et donc ce qu’il a envie d’obtenir; charge au moteur de comprendre cette intention et d’afficher des publicités correspondant à ce contexte. Par exemple, si une personne tape “billet avion paris madrid”, le moteur proposera non seulement des publicités pour des voyagistes (moyennement intéressantes), mais surtout des publicités ciblées pour des offres de billets d’avion de Paris à Madrid (très intéressantes et pertinentes). Cette offre publicitaire est légitime et normale dans le contexte décrit par la requête de l’utilisateur, elle répond parfaitement à son attente: il cliquera dessus.

Ce concept de publicité contextualisée et de publicité à la performance a été inventé par Bill Gross, fondateur d’IdeaLabs, dont a été issu GoTo, qui devint Overture, avant d’être racheté en 2003 par Yahoo! pour 1,63 milliard de dollars et renommé en Yahoo! Search Marketing. Google n’a donc pas inventé ce concept, bien qu’il l’ait incroyablement développé, et a préféré s’entendre avec Yahoo! en lui cédant 2,7 millions d’actions avant son introduction en bourse afin de clore les poursuites et de continuer à utiliser la juteuse technologie des liens sponsorisés (l’introduction en bourse de Google s’est faite à environ 106$ l’action).

John Battelle aborde également l’aventure Google en détail, mais sans se restreindre à une simple énumération des succès de l’entreprise: il explique en détail le contexte dans lequel Google est né, comment Larry Page et Sergey Brin ont fait naître puis développé le moteur de recherche, avant de passer à une stratégie plus “big company” en accueillant Eric Schmidt, afin de transformer ce projet de moteur de recherche en entreprise à succès qui gagne des milliards, tout en affinant sans cesse le moteur et en développant de nouveaux services.

Enfin, John Battelle fait quelques projections afin d’imaginer comment le search peut se développer sur d’autres supports. Le concept de recherche (et de publicité contextualisée…) peut se déployer partout, car il s’agit avant tout d’une fonctionnalité permettant d’atteindre de l’information, à l’image du sommaire d’un livre, et non d’un service en soi.

Pour illustrer les possibilités futures, l’auteur prend l’exemple de la télévision: un jeune père de famille est en train de consulter l’EPG de son fournisseur de télévision afin de trouver les émissions qui peuvent l’intéresser et l’aider dans ses nouvelles responsabilités. Pour ce faire, il saisit les mots-clés “poussette” ou “couche” dans le moteur de recherche intégré. L’affichage de publicités pour ces produits (ou pour des programmes présentant ces produits) est à la fois logique, utile pour l’utilisateur, et efficace pour l’annonceur, le support, et le fournisseur de technologie de publicité.

Ces évolutions technologiques et les changements d’usage qu’elles provoquent sur les consommateurs représentent de belles perspectives pour moteurs de recherche, et un grand défi pour l’industrie de la publicité, qui doit se réinventer afin d’intégrer cette nouvelle donne.

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, par John Battelle: un livre captivant sur un univers que tout internaute côtoie au quotidien sans forcément en comprendre toutes les problématiques ni tous les enjeux.

Pour acheter ce livre sur amazon.fr, cliquez ici: The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

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