Google is a search company. “Duh!” you say. But, The idea has been going around that Google is becoming an advertising company:

Google is an advertising company. Search is a fairly finite field in computing – and Google’s research team is now bigger than any University’s – they have this area sewn up. What they don’t have sewn up is the technology and services required for advertising, and this is how Google makes its money.

That’s wrong. Google is a search company. Overture is an advertising company. The difference is obvious when you look at what they deliver to their users. Overture delivers ads, Google delivers search results.

The idea that Google is an ad company stems from a misunderstanding of the content business. While a content company may get most or even all of its revenue from advertising, it never forgets that its user loyalty flows from its quality of service and content. And no one knows better than Google how quickly that loyalty can shift to someone else.

That doesn’t mean that Google won’t be working hard to advance that state of the art in online advertising. But the meme “You’re not a X company, you’re a Y company.” is one of those things that have given management consultants a bad name.