Google Finance, an impressive collection of tools, news and resources, was supposed to launch at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday. However, it’s 12:27 and the site isn’t yet up. Because I only got a sneak peek and wasn’t able to "play" with it, it’s not entirely clear to me how it lines up against other competitive sites (all the other portals have well-established finance sites). But from what I saw, it did appear to have some impressive and very useful features and I’m sure it will be a popular vertical within Google. (One can do portfolio tracking, for example.) And given Google’s enormous traffic, the site should get immediate traction.
The idea is that users will search for a ticker symbol or other finance-related query on Google.com and be given a link to Google Finance, as well as other financial sites (just like mapping today). Then users will enter Google Finance, which is a very rich, structured environment put together from a combination of crawling and feeds from content partners. There appeared to be an enormous amount of content, from what I saw. And one thing that was particularly interesting is how Google links news to the fluctuation of share prices (actually plotting them on a graph). That’s a great feature that has to be seen to be appreciated. The site will be a valuable resource for individual investors and analysts.
It’s also interesting as part of the "verticalization of Google," as the company builds out specific user experiences around particular content areas to create more value for users and, ultimately, advertisers.
As is typically the case with Google beta products, there are no immediate monetization plans. But expect that it will be another source of valuable ad inventory for Google. Even though the company has said no graphical/display ads will run on Google domain sites, this would be a perfect area for rich media and graphical ads (like on Yahoo! Finance). And advertisers, I’m sure, would welcome that option too. We’ll see.
According to comScore, Yahoo! Finance is the No. 1 global finance site with 31.4 million uniques. MSN’s Money is second with 21.9 million, and AOL’s finance site has 14.3 million global uniques. It will be interesting to see if Google’s brand and traffic will enable it to grab usage from the existing leaders. As a latecomer, Google has a mixed track (traffic/usage) record in other areas, such as mail and shopping. But it has had great success with Maps and Local, for example.
More later when the site actually goes live. I believe the URL will be http://finance.google.com/.
Update: I just found a working URL. Here’s the page for GOOG. I’m reminded that it also includes blog content, which is valuable. Manipulate the chart’s horizontal scroll bar and see how the news changes — very interesting stuff. The site also remembers your most recent (company) searches. And it has discussions/community as well. These kinds of features make it "sticky" (to use the outdated expression).
Tomorrow you’ll be able to go to Google Finance and see how all the coverage boosted the company’s share price. Neat, eh?