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Friday, August 12, 2005

ABM: Google is Our Friend 

MediaPace: Google not gunning for B-to-B

Steve Ennen posts on ABM's MediaPace that Min's b2b was off base with its July 25 analysis of the Millward Brown study on search in the business technology purchase process, and its potential impact on b2b publishers.

The post reminds me a little of the 12-stepping sharks in Finding Nemo, who continually remind themselves that fish are friends, not food.

Here's a key grab from the Min's b2b story, which I thought was reasoned and well-balanced:

Google wants to broaden its base beyond the direct-marketing clients who first latched on to performance-based text ads. Its New York office is advertising for b2b sales reps; and the head of that unit, John Topping, recently told VNU's Adweek that Google conducted the study to show b2b advertisers that search is an integral part of the enterprise purchasing cycle, even when it involves high-consideration, big-ticket items that they ultimately buy offline.

According to ABM's Steve Ennen, however: Sources at Google, say the company is dealing with the fallout [from reaction to the study] with the same incredulousness of any other story subject who feels misrepresented. The company says it has no designs on compteting with b-to-b pubs or sites, it is just the opposite. Stay tuned for some developments out of Google that might surprise several folks in media.

B2b sites are friends, not food. Can't wait for the surprising developments.

I know that thoughtful b2b executives like Rex Hammock will disagree, but I continue to think that Google is as much threat as it is friend to b2b media. I think Steve's "sources" at Google will need to address what many of us are facing, including Josh Gordon, who posted a comment to the ABM site on losing some business to Google. He writes: I recently lost a satisfied banner advertiser on one of my email newsletters who shifted his online money to "search." I recently failed to get another online ad campaign funded because the online money was all going to "search."

I've encountered the same with some of my clients, including the loss of a print/web advertiser who's now using a Google text ad instead to reach out to our audience. Sure, I can ban the URL, though there's a limit to how many you can ban, and I suspect that Google watches the bans carefully. Or I could try to compete on a CPM basis, but I don't know the exact CPM Google is charging for that ad (I get averages which shift daily). And of course, I still don't know what percent of the dollars the advertiser is giving to Google come my way, since that's a secret.

I understand that search is good for b2b publishers, and that rich content properly optimized is what drives traffic to our websites. And I think Google has done a tremendous job of changing the way we interact with the Internet, and access information. But that Google shark is hungry, and in the natural way of things, it's going to have trouble not clamping its jaws down on more than a few b2b fish as it monetizes the vast audience it draws to its search engine.

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