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Google Secrets

When Microsoft or Oracle barrel into a market, they serve up a grand strategy and a product road map to get you there. With Google, you might get a beta product that shows up on the Web, sometimes one that's less advanced than similar offerings in the market, and often with a narrowly defined goal, even if the potential for grand expansion seems obvious. CEO Eric Schmidt has said the company doesn't have a sweeping strategic vision, that "we delight in not having such strategy." Not no strategy, but one to innovate in many interesting areas and not to build just one thing.

What follows aren't the kind of secrets we dug through Google's trash to get. Google even talked a little about many of them. These are unknowns in the sense that the typically reticent Google hasn't told the world just how it intends to move down these roads. Here are some insights.

How big in the offline world?

Google is getting into something new all the time: Google Earth, a partnership with NASA, Google Pack software, voice over IP, scanning the world's books. But when it comes to revenue, the company's business can be understood on three lines: 56% from online ads running on its sites, 43% from other Web sites and magazines where Google places ads for a share of the revenue, and 1% other. Its dependence on online ads is one of the reasons Google paid $1 billion for 5% of America Online--to protect the ad revenue that partner AOL generates for Google and keep that from going to Microsoft.

Understandably, the company wants to diversify, and this month's acquisition of dMarc Broadcasting shows one way it intends to do so: by placing ads in conventional broadcast and print media. DMarc does business the way Google likes it--using software that helps automate the buying and placing of radio ads. Google plans to integrate that with its AdWords platform for placing Internet ads. How much does it like this business? It paid $102 million in cash, but the price tag could rise to $1.1 billion if the business hits all its targets the next three years. That's a lot of upside.

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