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Google Shuts Down Google Catalog Search

Farewell, Google Catalog Search: Google has shut down this service.

(If you’ve forgotten, Google Catalog Search was scanning and OCR-ing print catalogs).

Google is also shutting down (or reducing features of) G Notebook, G Video, Mashups, and Dodgeball.

While most of the blogosphere commentary focuses on the Google profitability angle, shuttering G Catalog Search also reflects on the diminishing role of catalogs overall. extinct

Catalogs to prior buyers won’t be going away any time soon. Typically, housefile mailings are quite profitable, and will remain so.

But for many mailers, with the rise of the web and in this economy, prospect catalog circ is rapidly heading onto the endangered species list.

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    11 Responses to “Google Shuts Down Google Catalog Search”
    1. Baron says:

      And good riddance (to the print catalogs). I know who my favorite companies are and they all have websites. If I feel the urge I’ll buy something. But I hate getting paper catalogs, especially ones from companies I’ve never heard of.

    2. Harry Joiner says:

      Black Knight: “It’s only a flesh wound!”
      King Arthur: “Your arm’s off!”
      Black Knight: “No it isn’t! It’s just a scratch!”

      If I’m a cataloger, I feel pretty good about things right now. Seriously. Industry shakeouts usually leave the smartest and most resourceful players in tact, while the weaklings and dodos die out. This improves the signal-to-noise ratio for the survivors, whose marketing should be evolving anyway.

      Perhaps this shakeout will change what a catalog looks like or how it’s mailed, and it might spur an increase in shared initiatives like JV mailings or postcard marketing. But going back as far as E. Haldeman-Julius’ “Little Blue Books,” we see that the masses want something to keep and hold and highlight. The internet is not every consumer’s preferred medium, just like not everyone likes talking on the phone. Different strokes.

      Catalogers will have to reinvent themselves, sure. But they should have been doing that all along.

    3. There will always be people that won’t use the internet, or those that are unable to comprehend it, or have no access. Take a company like Fingerhut which sells to people that don’t have credit, and provides them with credit. Likely they aren’t sitting there with high speed access and a nice computer.

      Catalogs give people the ability to lay in bed at night and turn down corners, circle things, and dream, all things that the web doesn’t. Catalog’s won’t go away, but marketers have to be mailing smarter, and ensuring that they don’t mail books to those that don’t want them.

      Google Catalog Search failed because no one knew it existed and because Google implemented it their way, without input from catalogers.

    4. As a former cataloger (solely running online campaigns now with a few targeted DM pieces here and there) and someone who uses catalogs as a means to make a purchasing choice, I find it absurd the number of companies that still haven’t connected the Web and print sales channels. I certainly understand the dynamics of internal credit for who/what gets the sale but we’re all on the same team! Catalogs should support the site and the site should support the catalog. Many leading retailers have successfully accomplished this (in print “see our site…” and online “quick catalog ordering”) and with that said, it’s no wonder Google decided to end this venture. I think they realize people don’t read catalogs online – per se – in the same way when physically holding it. I for one, read catalogs often, enjoy receiving the ones I’ve asked for, then go online to place an order. I’m sure many are in the same boat.

    5. Teresa Varner says:

      I used Google Catalog often. I work in a purchasing department and sometimes I am only given a catalog number. Google Catalog was a convenient tool to get actual product information without having to research the manufacturer or company with whom we made the purchase.

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    1. [...] Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that had been scanned and uploaded. Of course, retailers were already taking their inventories online themselves, and the effort was put to rest earlier this year. [...]

    2. [...] Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that had been scanned and uploaded. Of course, retailers were already taking their inventories online themselves, and the effort was put to rest earlier this year. [...]

    3. [...] and North America while Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others have gained such impressive traction.Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that [...]

    4. [...] Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that had been scanned and uploaded. Of course, retailers were already taking their inventories online themselves, and the effort was put to rest earlier this year. [...]

    5. [...] Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that had been scanned and uploaded. Of course, retailers were already taking their inventories online themselves, and the effort was put to rest earlier this year. [...]

    6. [...] Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do some shopping on Google Catalog. [...]