Google Moves Into Branding Business

Google announced today a "limited beta" for AdWords/AdSense that pretty much declares Google's intentions in the advertising business: The company is going to compete with everyone, on every front. The beta will be taken off in the "coming weeks" Patrick Keane, head of ad sales strategy at Google, told…

AdwordsupdateGoogle announced today a “limited beta” for AdWords/AdSense that pretty much declares Google’s intentions in the advertising business: The company is going to compete with everyone, on every front. The beta will be taken off in the “coming weeks” Patrick Keane, head of ad sales strategy at Google, told me late last week.

The new program allows advertisers to select where their ads might run and, just as importantly, let advertisers run image ads, a feature that has been in testing, but never as a CPM buy. Advertisers can also run animated gifs.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is Google as DoubleClick, Web 2.0 style (ie with an auction and with massive scale). Any pretense this has to do with search should be put to rest. This is an advertising play, pure and simple.

This move also shows Google is growing up, acting more like a business with its own agenda, as opposed to a engineering-driven playground where the coolest idea wins.

The Merc reports.

Update: I now see the Times piece. Well, it sure makes me out as anti-Google. I did say everything that I am quoted to say, however the context is off on the first section. I am quoted as saying:

“This drives the nail into the coffin of the idea that Google is a search business,” said John Battelle, the author of a coming book on Google called “The Search.”

“It is an advertising business that has nothing particularly to do with search.”

In fact, I was speaking of the new AdSense features, not all of Google, when I said that last bit. Just to be clear. Even the Times can miss context.

Update: Apparently, I was not clear in my conversation with Saul, he responds in the comments below. In any case, he got the quotes right. I should have been clearer in my intent – that in the case of this new move, it’s all about ads, and has nothing to do with search.

13 thoughts on “Google Moves Into Branding Business”

  1. The problem that Google moves into there is that they are becoming a network and big web sites didn’t really want networks on their site because they wanted direct access to the customers.

    As Google doesn’t have some kind of “keep the big advertisers” out setting, they would have to go over each and every customer which takes away the scalability of Google’s AdSense system.

    The good thing about AdSense for big web sites is that it allowed them to add up their free inventory without eating away on their direct business. Now this might change.

    The question to be raised then is whether everything will move to Google as it’s just the better priced system and their is more ROI for the company with using Google’s AdSense almost exclusively or whether the direct contact still pays.

    That will remain to be seen.

    In any case, it moves performance marketing forward.

  2. I largely agree with Oliver, above. This is a slap at the big publisher’s using AdSense.

    However, I think there are a couple of simple things that can be done to lessen the sting somewhat:

    As I close in the piece above, however, it seems clear that the big media co’s need to accept that their online worlds will shift at Google’s whim… that, or they need to see this as a final wake-up call, get their act together and field an offering of their own.

  3. Google is playing it’s cards very transparently. It is inevitably morphing it’s business. It is now, unambiguous that it sees it’s customers as “the advertisers”. I have no doubt that the users remain high on the agenda of the staff. But as for the long tail of publishers, their only value is to provide traffic for Google and it’s customers – the advertiser.

    This is an inevitable trend given the business decisions made at Google. It opens up a huge opportunity for an alternative platform that takes serving publishers as its starting point. The traffic is the key currency. If it gets organized the advertisers will come. Publishers choosing which ads to show from a transparent list of available ads and open viewing of CPC/CPA/CPM rates – now wouldn’t that be a great thing. “Publishers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains”.

  4. Google’s site says:
    “Users have told us they are tired of seeing the same banner ads everytime they visit their favorite sites.”


    They’re lying, and that’s evil

  5. This was always on the cards for google – how else to expand your revenue growth without cannibalizing your own property.

    As the advertiser tools & reporting become increasingly sophisticated, further consolidation will happen – the platforms win and become increasingly powerful each time a syndicate is swallowed.

  6. John-
    Nervously, I like the idea that you can talk back about the way you were quoted in the paper. I will be the first to say journalism is an imperfect business, certainly no more perfect than the general state of communication between human beings. And my general experience is nobody likes the way they look in photos, nor how they sound on a tape recording, nor how they are quoted in the newspaper.

    Still, in the spirit of 360 discussion, I think you are off base that I misstated the context of your comments. As it happens, I have been playing with a gizmo that records my phone calls as a backup in note taking. I didn

  7. I’m not sure this move should come as a surprise, nor do I think it spells the end of Google as a search company. This is simply a natural and necessary evolution of how Google will continue to compete to make money while focusing on the stated mission: “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” After all, the more information they have indexed, the more users will need it, and the better the abiliy for advertisers to reach them in contextual ways.

    I wrote a longer piece on it today, but there is an incredible future on the horizon for Google and the other search engines, and if it’s advertising supported (or better yet, the user’s choice), it is likely good for the user in the long run.

  8. I agree that Google sees its core business is in media. It is walking a fine line though of being a media company that has advertising and being an advertising company that syndicates media.

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