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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More on the Google/Millward Study 

A round up of comments on the Google/Millward Brown study.

Rex Hammock posts on ABM's Mediapace blog.

Grab: Also, it must be noted, when it comes to B2B advertising online, the Google business model -- how it makes its money -- is the "advertising sales agent" business model. Their success in this arena is dependent on them generating revenues FOR online publishers, not in "siphoning off revenues" from them.

Hugo Martin posts auf deutsch on his b2b blog.

Grab: Wenn sich Fachverlage über diese Entwicklungen Gedanken machen und Lösungspakete anbieten, dann war diese Studie für B2B Medien erfolgreich und nützlich. Dann gibt es für Fachverlage auch wieder ein Stück mehr aus dem Marketingbudget der Anbieter und dem "Lesebudget" (bzw. Nutzungsbudget) der Nachfrager aus Überzeugung!

Note: you can use the translate function in your browser to get a general idea of Hugo's message. I tend to use my college German, which is more limited than I would like to admit. Hugo's general point: If specialized media can create solutions around the implications of this study, then the study was useful, and there might be the opportunity to get a larger piece of marketing budgets and "reading" budgets (a nice turn of phrase!).

Paul Woodward posts on his Asia Business Media blog.

Grab: And I am intrigued by the argument that Google is not siphoning revenues at all but acting as an ad agency. The success of that argument depends, I suppose, on the extent to which searchers are still going to use home pages at the traditional media companies rather than Google's own or web-only sites.

Paul has also added a comment to my post yesterday, here. He asks:

Google, though, remains suspiciously quiet about the effectiveness of the ads themselves: no doubt that people are using search as a more effective 1st step in a research process. Of course they are. So, Google wins hands down on its effectiveness as a research medium, but what about advertising effectiveness?

My thoughts:

1. The study is limited to enterprise software application buyers, so may not be transferable to other markets. Even so, enterprise software is not a cheap purchase for corporations, and is by no means a credit-card buy. If this study convinces a major enterprise software maker to shift more dollars away from print, that's not going to help an already battered sector of the B2B market.

2. The Google study, as I see it, clearly sets search up in opposition to print advertising and e-mail newsletters. It doesn't talk about how these work together. Rather, it shows how search is more effective than trade advertising in a critical phase of the buying process. Perhaps ABM should field some research on the impact of an integrated media buy: print ads, trade show booths, web ads, direct mail, email and search. What's the right combination for a marketer--and for a media company?

3. Google may be an advertising sales agent for publishers, but it also sells those ads direct to marketers. We're often in competition with our potential print advertisers for ranking in AdSense, and in general search rankings. (Side note: Google's commission structure, at least for my clients, is veiled in secrecy. We get whatever money we get, with little explanation for the rise and fall in per-click dollars, other than a guess that there's a change in the bidding on the advertiser side. For every publisher who uses AdSense, Google provides incremental, impossible-to-budget, revenues. It's nice to have, but it sure isn't making up for the declines in print ad revenues we've incurred.)

4. I love Google. I primarily use Google's search engine. I use Google's Blogger program. I use Picasa. Yet I remain worried about the less-than-subtle impact Google has on the b2b media model. And I'm concerned that they'd bring a study to market which could have a negative impact on a chunk of their customer base. Do they really need b2b media in its current form? Or can they grow their b2b search revenues without us? I tend to think that they tend to think the latter.

Addendum: Complaining about something we can't change (that is, the impact of search on the buying process) is useless, of course. But I'm still unclear on how b2b media companies can profitably navigate a world where search has disintermediated our usual offerings. But I guess that's really the core problem we face in the next ten years. Are b2b media companies and media products, in their current form, relevant anymore?

UPDATE: Check out DeSilva + Phillips' report on Search Engine Marketing companies. Perhaps b2b media companies should be acquiring some of these, or at least offering search engine optimization as part of an integrated media sale?

UPDATE TWO: I'm well aware of the personal implications of using "More on" in my post's title!

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