September 14, 2008

A Cautionary Tale? Or Planting A Meme? [12:12 pm]

Stuck in Google’s Doghouse

When he pressed Google to explain why the changes hadn’t helped, he said, the company gave him the brushoff.

“Your landing pages will continue to require higher bids in order to display your ads, resulting in a very low return on your investment,” a Google executive named Nathan Anderson wrote on Jan. 2, 2007. “Therefore AdWords may not be the online advertising program for you.”

Two days later, in another e-mail message, Mr. Anderson told Mr. Savage to “please refrain from repeatedly contacting our team.”

As he stewed about his predicament, Mr. Savage came to believe that there was something more nefarious going on than a subpar landing page. [...]

In the three months since the Google-Yahoo deal was announced, there is very little doubt that the Justice Department is seriously examining whether to block it. As you may recall, the deal was not a merger, but rather a cooperation agreement. Still, it would give the two companies a staggering 90 percent of the search advertising market, a market share figure so high that even the notoriously lax Bush antitrust department can’t look the other way.

[...] But it is also true that people like Mr. Savage, who are demonstrably not bad guys, find themselves in Google’s doghouse and then can’t even get the company to respond to them. Is it any wonder that they feel treated unfairly by a ruthless monopolist? What makes it worse is that Google simply refuses to acknowledge that its algorithms could ever be wrong. Could Google really treat its own customers so shabbily if it faced true competition?

See also Ads That Built Google Could Now Pose Test (pdf)

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