Executive: Google Growth Driven by Users

Television should consider Google a friend, not foe, a senior company executive says.

"We're computer scientists," Marissa Mayer, a Google Inc. vice president, told broadcast executives at the recent Edinburgh International Television Festival. "We're not brilliant storytellers or content creators."

Producers have looked with particular alarm at the rapid rise of user-generated video. Stunts, spoofs and other clips posted on video-sharing sites like YouTube Inc. or Google Video can attract millions of viewers -- viewers who might otherwise be watching television.

Mayer acknowledged that even Google had failed to foresee the huge popularity of user-generated content. She said Google's original model for online video emphasized "premium content," in which viewers would pay a small fee to access.

But the success of YouTube over the past year -- rapidly eclipsing Google Video in popularity -- took many by surprise.

Mayer said the growth of Google and the Internet were both user-driven, making them revolutionary -- "the equivalent of the printing press in our day and age."

But she said television still had a role in telling stories and sharing information.

"On the whole, I think the experience of using a television and using the Internet are so different," she said. "There are social reasons that will cause both mediums to survive."

Both, she said, had a common interest in finding ways to convert the popularity of online video into revenue.

Mayer said television executives must figure out how to move their content to new, rapidly evolving delivery formats. She said Google wants to be "one of the players providing that platform."


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