Fear of Google

Yesterday, during his speech at the Forbes shindig I attended, Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer’s funniest remark was when he told us that the “Fear of Google” was so prevelent that it even had a three-letter acronymn: FOG.

Anyway, I’ve been hearing more and more about FOG all weekend as I talk with advertising and marketing executives from some of the world’s biggest companies. Here’s a few examples:

1) Why did the stock market drive shares of Yahoo up so fast on total rumors that Microsoft was buying Yahoo? Easy, we wanted it to happen. “We” being journalists who are living in FOG land. Bloggers who’d like to see Microsoft be interesting again (which is why I linked to it).

2) What will do when Google’s growth slows down? One advertising agency exec says he’s afraid of pricing control Google will be able to have if they continue gobbling up market share and advertising companies like DoubleClick. Have a bad quarter coming up? Raise prices!

3) Google is changing expectations of advertisers. One advertising agency exec told me she’s seeing that more and more advertisers are only willing to pay for “the last click” — she works for an airline, for instance, who wants to see ROI reports on all ads now, so it’s getting harder and harder to do creative advertising (which is where advertising agencies add their value and get their fees) in exchange for “boring” text ads. Online “pay per action” ads are training advertisers that they should be able to track everything about advertising and how well it’s working for them. Of course, as we were talking about this on the bus we rolled by a Coca Cola umbrella. I wonder how well THAT is converting!

Anyway, back to #1. Several people on the boat were hoping that Microsoft would buy Yahoo simply to keep competition going in the advertising market. The perception on the street is that Google is leaving its competitors in the dust and they don’t like that, which is causing them to cheer on Microsoft and Yahoo just so they’ll do something interesting and stay in the game.

Oh, and advertisers want to track everything about you on the Internet. They want to know if you saw a blog about something, and a banner about that, and other stuff about that — how does that all mix into your purchasing behavior. They are looking to Google to give them more answers. I heard more than one brand manager decry that he couldn’t see anything about you other than you clicked on an ad on Google to find his company’s stuff.

Because these folks have so much advertising buying power, watch for Google (and Yahoo and Microsoft, to be fair) to cater to them and give them more data about where you’ve been and what you’ve seen.

Do you have FOG? If so, why?

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. Does it make sense to say that perhaps – just perhaps – ad agencies fear Google in a similar way the RIAA & cia. fear p2p? Of course a big difference is that Google is also a business, but I see some similar pattern here. What do you think?

  2. Does it make sense to say that perhaps – just perhaps – ad agencies fear Google in a similar way the RIAA & cia. fear p2p? Of course a big difference is that Google is also a business, but I see some similar pattern here. What do you think?

  3. Interesting.

    While there’s only one Google, and many agencies, they are in a position to demand nothing unless they group together. If M+Y could provide more then they’d be a strong position perhaps and Google would likely need to follow to keep advertisers.

    There is the issue of course of the consumer revolting about giving up all that tracking data. That being said, it seems like teenagers will give up a lot of personal data to stay in the social mix.

  4. Interesting.

    While there’s only one Google, and many agencies, they are in a position to demand nothing unless they group together. If M+Y could provide more then they’d be a strong position perhaps and Google would likely need to follow to keep advertisers.

    There is the issue of course of the consumer revolting about giving up all that tracking data. That being said, it seems like teenagers will give up a lot of personal data to stay in the social mix.

  5. I don’t fear google. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! I use various search engines and email service providers. =O) Also, I don’t click on ANY ads.

  6. I don’t fear google. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! I use various search engines and email service providers. =O) Also, I don’t click on ANY ads.

  7. I don’t fear them (yet) because they have yet to do anything that locked my data into their own proprietary warehouse. Yes, my email is on their system, but it was also on Yahoo’s system and Microsoft’s and some local ISPs for a while too. Any of them could have snooped it without my knowledge.

    I am not a privacy nut, but I generally turn off “tracking” options when given the choice, and Google, Firefox, Debian all have such check boxes that I can use. I’m more concerned with software that doesn’t give you the option, and doesn’t bother to even tell you that it is contacting the mother-ship every so often. Now what big company would do that hmmm?

    Google’s marketing lead could evaporate almost overnight. Suppose Microsoft set out to make everything Google does cause mysterious crashes on Windows systems with the latest update? Suppose Yahoo kept my photos on their servers, but hid them from me after a while requiring a $25 fee for me to get at them again?

    I reserve my fears for companies that have already played fast and loose with my stuff, and worry less about what some new company MIGHT do in the future. Google has pledged not to engage in lock-in, I haven’t heard similar pledges from Yahoo or Microsoft, who both in fact have a track record that is quite the opposite.

    Should Google (and MS and Yahoo) scare the dickens out of print and TV advertisers? You bet. Because print and TV advertisers never could (or wanted to) provide accurate metrics on how many people either saw, or acted on their advertising materials. The Internet can and does do that, even if there is a bit of cheating in the process.

    I got a renewal call from one of the well known trade publications Friday. They literally BEGGED me to keep my print subscription even though I assured them I never even open the plastic wrap it comes in. Doesn’t there seem like there is something not quite honest about that?

    If left up to the journalists and technical people I’m sure many of these publications would be Internet-only by now. But the owners of these printing presses won’t come to terms with the real world. In the 90s maybe I could feel a bit sorry for them, but at this point they are playing a con game with their customers, they deserve whatever they get at this point.

  8. I don’t fear them (yet) because they have yet to do anything that locked my data into their own proprietary warehouse. Yes, my email is on their system, but it was also on Yahoo’s system and Microsoft’s and some local ISPs for a while too. Any of them could have snooped it without my knowledge.

    I am not a privacy nut, but I generally turn off “tracking” options when given the choice, and Google, Firefox, Debian all have such check boxes that I can use. I’m more concerned with software that doesn’t give you the option, and doesn’t bother to even tell you that it is contacting the mother-ship every so often. Now what big company would do that hmmm?

    Google’s marketing lead could evaporate almost overnight. Suppose Microsoft set out to make everything Google does cause mysterious crashes on Windows systems with the latest update? Suppose Yahoo kept my photos on their servers, but hid them from me after a while requiring a $25 fee for me to get at them again?

    I reserve my fears for companies that have already played fast and loose with my stuff, and worry less about what some new company MIGHT do in the future. Google has pledged not to engage in lock-in, I haven’t heard similar pledges from Yahoo or Microsoft, who both in fact have a track record that is quite the opposite.

    Should Google (and MS and Yahoo) scare the dickens out of print and TV advertisers? You bet. Because print and TV advertisers never could (or wanted to) provide accurate metrics on how many people either saw, or acted on their advertising materials. The Internet can and does do that, even if there is a bit of cheating in the process.

    I got a renewal call from one of the well known trade publications Friday. They literally BEGGED me to keep my print subscription even though I assured them I never even open the plastic wrap it comes in. Doesn’t there seem like there is something not quite honest about that?

    If left up to the journalists and technical people I’m sure many of these publications would be Internet-only by now. But the owners of these printing presses won’t come to terms with the real world. In the 90s maybe I could feel a bit sorry for them, but at this point they are playing a con game with their customers, they deserve whatever they get at this point.

  9. Why did the stock market drive shares of Yahoo up so fast on total rumors that Microsoft was buying Yahoo? Easy, we wanted it to happen. “We” being journalists who are living in FOG land. Bloggers who’d like to see Microsoft be interesting again (which is why I linked to it).

    Anyone who would think that is ignorant or living in a fantasy world. That would have the exact opposite effect.

  10. Why did the stock market drive shares of Yahoo up so fast on total rumors that Microsoft was buying Yahoo? Easy, we wanted it to happen. “We” being journalists who are living in FOG land. Bloggers who’d like to see Microsoft be interesting again (which is why I linked to it).

    Anyone who would think that is ignorant or living in a fantasy world. That would have the exact opposite effect.

  11. Fantasy world, for sure, plus all the Social Media Internet ‘desktop marketers’ that want the world in nice easy little-pretty-boxes. Hey, let’s jet to Cancun and talk about it all, wouldn’t that be fun, invite all the cool ‘they get it’ people. Flag up blogs, feeds, and doooo some video, pay off some hip bloggers, and then track your every move, plotting out strategy from Googleish print-out sheets. Wheeee. Most marketing types, are really just Advertising Managers, as it’s the rare marketer that actually markets.

    Gerbil activity really, shop talkers, talking shop talk to other shop talkers.

  12. Fantasy world, for sure, plus all the Social Media Internet ‘desktop marketers’ that want the world in nice easy little-pretty-boxes. Hey, let’s jet to Cancun and talk about it all, wouldn’t that be fun, invite all the cool ‘they get it’ people. Flag up blogs, feeds, and doooo some video, pay off some hip bloggers, and then track your every move, plotting out strategy from Googleish print-out sheets. Wheeee. Most marketing types, are really just Advertising Managers, as it’s the rare marketer that actually markets.

    Gerbil activity really, shop talkers, talking shop talk to other shop talkers.

  13. Scoble, you are getting very good in FUD.

    If Fear of Google is bad, just imagine what would be Fear of Microsoft Live (all of your digital lifestyle belong us).

    It’s a kind of crazy Robin Hood – take away from the rich and give it to the even more rich.

  14. Scoble, you are getting very good in FUD.

    If Fear of Google is bad, just imagine what would be Fear of Microsoft Live (all of your digital lifestyle belong us).

    It’s a kind of crazy Robin Hood – take away from the rich and give it to the even more rich.

  15. Sorry, but I can’t get a case of the FOG. In fact I love to see Google get bigger and bigger.

    Why? For over a year now I’ve been working in the field of old school media (print and broadcasting). Walking with dinosaurs so to speak. These were, and still are, big, powerful international companies.

    Google operates in the same market as they do. The advertising market. The attention economy. But unlike traditional media, Google uses Information Technology. Media companies hate IT. They don’t like it, they don’t understand it and what’s more, they refuse to either invest in it, or change their business practices and organisations to accommodate it. When they talk about investing in IT they talk about buying software and hardware as a commodity, like some new tv-studio equipment. The value of knowledge, and people with knowledge is completely unknown to them.

    In other words: even though they have the money and the crucial relationships with both audience and advertisers, they simply refuse to get into the game if the game is called IT.

    If the only company standing between Google and the advertising market is the IT company that has already shown it has no scruples about abusing its power, and has shown a blatant disregard for a healthy and open internet in which all can compete equally (the Silverlight monstrosity, however technically ingenious, being the latest example of this arrogant and destructive mentality), god help us. Why doesn’t Microsoft bother to make decent competitive online services instead of their “Live” crap?

    Right now, I’d rather have a company dominate the industry that actually makes the effort to a) build decent products, and b) knows the meaning of the word “ethics”.

    Google doesn’t have any major competitors because those who should compete with them never even bothered to try. Not because Google is so powerful, but because they simple didn’t want to, long before Google got this big. And they still don’t.

    It’s not Googles fault that they are the only ones even trying hard enough. When Google starts to squash potential competitors with MS-like tactics, then there is a reason to get FOG.

  16. Sorry, but I can’t get a case of the FOG. In fact I love to see Google get bigger and bigger.

    Why? For over a year now I’ve been working in the field of old school media (print and broadcasting). Walking with dinosaurs so to speak. These were, and still are, big, powerful international companies.

    Google operates in the same market as they do. The advertising market. The attention economy. But unlike traditional media, Google uses Information Technology. Media companies hate IT. They don’t like it, they don’t understand it and what’s more, they refuse to either invest in it, or change their business practices and organisations to accommodate it. When they talk about investing in IT they talk about buying software and hardware as a commodity, like some new tv-studio equipment. The value of knowledge, and people with knowledge is completely unknown to them.

    In other words: even though they have the money and the crucial relationships with both audience and advertisers, they simply refuse to get into the game if the game is called IT.

    If the only company standing between Google and the advertising market is the IT company that has already shown it has no scruples about abusing its power, and has shown a blatant disregard for a healthy and open internet in which all can compete equally (the Silverlight monstrosity, however technically ingenious, being the latest example of this arrogant and destructive mentality), god help us. Why doesn’t Microsoft bother to make decent competitive online services instead of their “Live” crap?

    Right now, I’d rather have a company dominate the industry that actually makes the effort to a) build decent products, and b) knows the meaning of the word “ethics”.

    Google doesn’t have any major competitors because those who should compete with them never even bothered to try. Not because Google is so powerful, but because they simple didn’t want to, long before Google got this big. And they still don’t.

    It’s not Googles fault that they are the only ones even trying hard enough. When Google starts to squash potential competitors with MS-like tactics, then there is a reason to get FOG.

  17. Scoble, you did *notice* the Coca-Cola umbreally, right? I don’t even notice Google ads. I do question whether advertisers are getting their money’s worth with them.

    Also, note that Google’s earnings reports are among the most opaque in business, with very little guidance as to future earnings, and the actual reported earnings lacking a detailed breakdown. Shades of Enron.

  18. Scoble, you did *notice* the Coca-Cola umbreally, right? I don’t even notice Google ads. I do question whether advertisers are getting their money’s worth with them.

    Also, note that Google’s earnings reports are among the most opaque in business, with very little guidance as to future earnings, and the actual reported earnings lacking a detailed breakdown. Shades of Enron.

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    En mi entorno tenemos una pequeña broma respecto a una canción de Iron Maiden llamada Fear of the Dark. Tal y como la pronuncian, uno puede pensar que están diciendo Fear of the Duck (miedo del pato). Así que me reí bastante hoy cuando ha salido …

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  24. Interestingly Robert, the fears of a Google monopoly are the same that the world had about Microsoft a few years back. Mozilla moved in. Google countered with Chrome and it seems Mozilla has won an audience of faithfull users. The latest information I have is that Microsoft now have around 70% market share opposed to 95% ten years ago. But percentages don't mean too much when more and more PCs are bought as the market size grows.
    I'm interested in where Apple, Mac and <Steve Jobbs may be heading. Watch this space.
    Thanks for your article. I'll keep my eyes open for more.

  25. Interestingly Robert, the fears of a Google monopoly are the same that the world had about Microsoft a few years back. Mozilla moved in. Google countered with Chrome and it seems Mozilla has won an audience of faithfull users. The latest information I have is that Microsoft now have around 70% market share opposed to 95% ten years ago. But percentages don't mean too much when more and more PCs are bought as the market size grows.
    I'm interested in where Apple, Mac and <Steve Jobbs may be heading. Watch this space.
    Thanks for your article. I'll keep my eyes open for more.