Google and Business: Best Frenemies

google_nyt_articleThose of us making a living in search marketing have long been aware of the pitfalls of doing business with Google which were outlined in a comprehensive look at the search behemoth in this morning’s NYT: Sure, It’s Big. But Is That Bad? Blatant self-interest, sudden unannounced changes in search algorithms and volatile ad rates have kept us on our toes, constantly having to keep up with whichever way the Google wind blows.

But we don’t take our business elsewhere. Most of us easily hand 80% of our paid search budget right over. When Google pulls another fast one – which it inevitably will, we adapt. Competitive behavior in a complex, networked economy is a slippery fish. Networks work because they are large. Networked economies (the Internet) benefit from scale (Google). We Internet marketers, although mostly irked by Google, accept that its very scale works to our benefit.

This morning’s Times article properly asks, “Can there really be monopolies online when the competition is only a click away?” We can move our paid search business away from Google and give it to Yahoo! or Bing at a moments notice. But we don’t.

And why not? Because, for now, Google is where the consumers are. Doing business with Google as advertiser has always been annoying and has certainly always felt unfair, but has it really been unfair? With all the pressure we now see to derive quantifyable ROI from every dollar we spend, we prove time and again that what we spend on Google is worth it no matter how annoying or unfair.

But all is transient – especially in the world of Internet marketing. When it becomes bad business to do business with Google, we’ll stop.

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