I was disappointed to see the Nexus 7 tablet ad on Google Search yesterday.
I love and use Google products heavily, including Google Drive, the Google+ app on my iPhone, and of course Google Search. Google has spent years making its search comprehensive and “impartial” but this really stopped me in my tracks.
Is Google going to start using all its product lines to shill for its own products and services? At what point will other advertisers give Google the “hairy eyeball” and wonder if they should be using the service? Is Google putting its “thumb on the scale” as suggested by GigaOm?
I know, Google is a big company. It has just as much right as any other company to go “thermonuclear” when it comes to business. But to risk its cash cow flagship product like this? Wow, that’s serious. My daughter’s first reaction to seeing the ad was, “What happened to ‘don’t be evil?’”
No, I don’t see advertising one’s products as “evil.” I do it all the time when I promote my own name and consulting services. But I do see the difficulty with an ad supported business blurring the line that is supposed to exist between editorial content and advertising.
You can just hear those German newpspaper publishers saying, “See, I told you we couldn’t trust Google. They say they are pushing traffic to our old-world newspaper sites but what they’re really doing is just pushing their own products!”
You could just say, “You get what you pay for. Google makes this service available to you for free. You don’t have to use this free service if you don’t want to but, if you choose to do so, be prepared to watch Google product and service ads.”
One of the reasons I stopped using Facebook — another “free” service — was that I was annoyed with the constant stream of irrelevant ads. On the other hand, I’ve rarely been annoyed with Google ads, and I’ve even clicked on a few.
But if this advertising on the Google Search page is the new “business as usual” I have to say that I am disappointed. It was fun while it lasted, I guess.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a Washington DC area consultant specializing in collaborative project management and new technology adoption. His clients have included the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Library of Medicine, The National Academy of Engineering, and the World Bank Group. Contact Dennis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 703-402-7382.