While synonymous with the search business, perhaps Google's most significant legacy will be its organizational obsession with data-driven decision making. Google's intellectual and strategic impact has encouraged the measurement of -- well -- everything.
Consider how Nielsen, among the world's oldest media companies, has changed. Long known as the official ratings firm, companies and careers have lived or died based on Nielsen's ratings.
First, Nielsen created deep data partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and Experian to make their panel reporting considerably more accurate. Second, Nielsen is nearing the conclusion of a 4-year odyssey to set measurement standards for video -- a kind of Gross Rating Point (GRP) across all media and devices that measures the size and engagement of the viewing audience. Now Google, Netflix, Apple and others have a stake in how video GRP will be calculated. Nielsen has reinvented the GRP, a standard that has been the source of much of the television market's hegemony in media.
In partnering with an array of digital data providers, Nielsen looks, feels, and acts more and more like an Internet company that measures with substantially increased precision.
In this exponentially fractured media landscape, television audiences will likely get smaller (they have been for decades). Marketers will struggle to justify their upfront advertising purchases because content will be consumed at time-shifted moments using panoply of devices and distribution services.