April 13, 2010

Google's Search & Destroy, Pretty Face & Tolstoy


"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." begins one of Leo Tolstoy's most famous novels. Some call it the most famous novel ever written. Companies, who once grew astronomically, using Search as their primary marketing device, were all once happy families. They all had a pretty face.

Overnight, Search became the most famous web marketing tool ever clicked on. And now, those companies who once rejoiced in their newfound success are increasingly unhappy, each in their own way. The once proud Search industry is rapidly becoming nightmarish and quickening its descent from the top, due to a most brilliant and diabolical fraudulency. The abuse of click power Search Engines have been hiding threatens Search, just as Anna Karenina, Tolstoy's classic character whose proud and aristocratic demeanor ultimately led to her descent, into withering self-destruction.


Is Google's new financial site really all that different from others because it can show a photo of a company CEO?

Wired Magazine's "How click fraud could swallow the Internet" tells the story of JetNetwork, a specialty airline who agreed to pay $10.00 a click, only to find that 40% of their clicks came from one Internet address belonging to a rival in New York City.

According to Marketing Experiments, a research company that "tests every conceivable marketing method on the Internet", they recently reported that up to 30% of all clicks are fraudulent. Wired reports that "Whatever the exact figure, click fraud has become pervasive, and Google, Yahoo!, and the other major PPC firms have found themselves caught in a game of cat and mouse with its perpetrators".


Does seeing a pretty face really an investor's savoir-faire in the market?

Karenina's beauty and her lavish luxurious display of aristocratic wealth made her the Belle of the ball in all of 19th century society. As the "jewel" of St. Petersburg, she had the temerity to think her beauty and power allowed her to ignore convention. Leaving her husband and having an affair openly, she let passions get the best of her and assumed her friends in society would understand. Of course, she miscalculated, relying on her pretty face to win their acceptance of the "reality" she lived. She saw this as their hypocritical "falseness."

Now, Google is offering a news search service on finance. Undaunted with paying a measly $90 million click fraud fine, (a slap on the hand in comparison to the $6 billion + revenue they ran away with in 2005), the March 21st, 2006 edition of the New York Times Google Offers Search Service On Finance reported that Google is rolling out a new service which will compete with the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo! among others.


However, bewildering, Google makes a fairly large case about this unique difference.

Readers can find it at Finance.google.com (no www). According to senior product manager, Katie Jacobs Stanton, Google had taken advantage of its Web database to add material like executives photos, culled with corporate Web sites. Google makes a fairly large case about this unique difference. Does seeing a photo really increase an investor's savoir-faire in the market? Isn't that more akin to betting on a horse because of its name than looking at its stats? You decide.


Ultimately, Anna was unable to reconcile the internal vs. external pressures... just as Google wasn't and knew all along of the "reality" of click fraud. Like Karenina, they acted surprised when business no longer accepted this falsehood.

They equally got swept away and never stopped to consider the consequences of what they were passionately selling as they acted as if they were the "jewel" of the Internet.

Therefore, one must question whether Google's service is really a big difference or is it all just another pretty face?


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