Google search within a search steals customers

Google has announced a new "search within a search" option that has online retailers worried that the search behemoth will steal customers. The new option lets you use Google to search only pages that are part of a single site. So if you want to buy a digital camera and go to Google to start the search, you get the usual search results page. If you click on a Best Buy site, as an example, Google will now do an extended search only on the Best Buy site.

Sounds handy, right? Except that the search results are likely to include ads from Best Buy competitors. So the pages that Google returns from the customized search may be larded with ads from Circuit City.

For Google, this is a good thing, as it will likely increase ad revenue from click-throughs. And you could argue it is good for the person trying to buy something, as Google gives you more information about prices and competition.

But there is a certain "goose and the golden egg" situation here. While in my example it appears that Circuit City may be the winner, it could just as easily go the other way on the next search, where Circuit City came up first, and subsequent search results are plastered with Best Buy ads. Circuit City and Best Buy both end up paying Google while Google tries to push potential customers somewhere else. This is also known as "wanting your cake and trying to eat it too."

At some point, some big Google advertisers are going to say, "Enough is enough," and take their ad dollars elsewhere.

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