Tag Archives: Google

Innocence lost…

I’ve always been a fan of Google. A naturally inquisitive person — I’m a reporter, remember? — I often use Google to look up random, useless information. My boyfriend and I recently debated the release date of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” for instance, and Google helped us resolve the issue. But learning more about paid placement and search advertising has made me question the results I get, as well as Google’s dominance in the search business.

googleAnd apparently I’m not the only one to do so.  A Reuters report indicates that the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies are questioning Google’s dominance, too, and investigating whether the company has violated antitrust laws.

According to the report, Google is the top text-based search ad provider, despite backing out of a deal with Yahoo last year after federal regulators indicated they would oppose the deal. Bert Foer, head of the American Antitrust Institute, noted that Google has not done anything wrong. It’s natural for people to challenge Google, however, as those ads bring in a great deal of money. Criticism and skepticism often comes with the territory when you’re at the top of your game, no matter what it is.

“It’s not that it’s bad or poorly intentioned,” said Foer. “It’s playing such a large role in the flow of information and has so much free cash to play with and so many creative and aggressive ideas that it presents potential problems regarding… privacy and competition.”

My newfound skepticism of Google has even extended to its news content. I often use Google to scour the Web for the latest news on work-related topics, but now I wonder if it really gives me the most relevant results or if I simply get the top advertisers’ stories. What about images? I’ve used Google to find images to post on this blog. Are there better images I might find elsewhere? Am I just getting the images provided by Google’s top advertisers? Who knows…

This is exactly what’s wrong with paid placement and paid inclusion. It raises questions and concerns that wouldn’t existed if search engines advertising strategies were completely clear and transparent.

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If only there were a good restaurant around here…

In February, USA Today obtained — and confirmed the authenticity of — a 2008 presentation by Google ad execs that indicates the company’s marketing strategy is going mobile. Not exactly a shocker, but I was pleased to see that Google is anticipating the needs of consumers on the go. Google’s mobile ads will feature contextual targeting and image ads — allowing users to search by image or keyword — to generate information within a specific city or ZIP code. According to USA Today:

What do people want from mobile search? In Google’s view, consumers want “exact information,” as they do on the desktop. “The key difference with mobile is that they immediately act on it.”

Agreed!I don’t have a GPS device or a fancy-schmancy smartphone, but the ability to search for, say, a cool restaurant or bar when I make a pit stop on a long road trip might be enough to tempt me to buy one.

new-york-city

Another useful situation: My boyfriend and I went to New York City last year for an affordable four-day weekend getaway. Since it was a last-minute thing, we didn’t really plan where we wanted to go, aside from the standard touristy stuff (i.e. Empire State Building, Central Park, Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty). But once we got there, it would have been useful to look for good, cheap bars and restaurants that were near us. (A word to the wise, by the way — Don’t go to New York City for a cheap vacation!)

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