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Google's Secret Sauce Is Larry Page

Stocks in this article: GOOG

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When I have written about Google (GOOG) in the past, I have often called its infrastructure its secret sauce.

Google's blow-out earnings, however, may have more to do with something other than its low-cost, global cloud.

Maybe this Larry Page fellow knows something. Maybe Larry Page is Google's secret sauce.

Page founded Google much as Steve Jobs founded Apple. But, unlike Jobs, Page never left. Instead, he did a CEO apprenticeship on the job, for nearly a decade, under Eric Schmidt. When he became CEO, at the start of 2011, he was already seasoned, and his hair was already going silver.

Since becoming CEO, Page has dramatically narrowed the focus of the company. As one Quora user put it, there's more wood behind fewer arrows.

The whole company is more professional and more focused. Major functions are concentrated on its Mountain View headquarters, and there are fewer of them. The days of wild experimentation are over.

Page has focused on mobile, on social, and on the company's search algorithms, all in an effort to transform ads from annoyances to real service. It's working. Over the last year Google's cost per click, its base ad rate, fell 8% while the number of clicks was up 26%.

This means Google is, increasingly, your best advertising bargain. Competitors - whether they're in TV, or in any other medium, face a company that is delivering more customers for less money, and an advertising model based on results rather than eyeballs.

This is an important inflection point. Ever since the Web was spun, companies have been promising that intrinsic advertising, ads pushed based on who is using the site, would become more effective than extrinsic advertising, ads pushed based on the content next to it.

Google seems to have cracked that code, and this quarter brought revenues of $14.9 billion including traffic acquisition costs (TAC), with a full 20% of that money, $2.97 billion, hitting the net income line.

Put it this way. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimated that in 2011 U.S. Internet advertising was a $31.7 billion market. Google will easily double that this year, all by itself.

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