A Google Advertorial

October 25, 2008

I am having a tough time figuring out what information is developed by someone trying to write an objective article and someone who is writing an advertisement disguised as a news story. My newsreader displayed this headline to me on October 24, 2008: “Google’s Enterprising Future.” The author was according to the by line Nitin Mangtani. At the foot of the article which ran on Forbes.com here, Mr. Mangtani’s day job was displayed in type these 64 year old eyes would describe as small and gray. That day job is lead product manager for Google Enterprise Search.

I quite like marketing collateral. I find it a feast of buzzwords, cutting edge ideas, and knockwurst. I read the article and identified several useful items; for example:

  • The Google advertorial was sponsored in some way and to some degree by SAP, the German software giant that apparently sees a reader like me as a prospective licensee for a multi million dollar software system.
  • Google processes “1 trillion unique URLs
  • “The Google Search Appliance instantly assesses more than 100 variables for each user query”
  • Google delivers “a universal search experience”
  • Google Search Appliance users “can quickly refine their searches through an automated grouping of search results by topic we call “dynamic clustering.”
  • Competitors’ products are often “developer platforms–complex systems that take huge amounts of time, money and expertise to set up and maintain”

Was this a news story? Was this an advertorial? I felt like a confused ad executive. Like McDonald’s the write up says to me, “Over one trillion urls processed.” Great. Just not germane to the enterprise message Google’s trying to get me to embrace.

Several other thoughts ran through my mind:

First, Google has enough money to buy space in Forbes. Most companies don’t. Therefore, Google will gain share of mind.

Second, the argument set forth in the advertorial makes sense to Google. I don’t think I buy the pitch. “Universal search experience” sounds good, but what my research suggests is that companies want a solution, not an experience. Search is not a visit to Disney World in an organization. Search is necessary in most cases to do work.

Third, not all competitor products are developer platforms. For example, Clearwell Systems, Coveo, Exalead, Index Engines, ISYS Search Software, and other vendors’ products are not platforms. These are products that deliver specific solutions. Sweeping generalizations may be okay for a math student who is now a marketer, but the generalizations are going to work for me.

Finally, what’s with the SAP logos slapped around the advertorial? I found the whole presentation a welter of brand names. There’s Forbes. There’s SAP. There’s Google.There’s Investopedia. There’s Bankrate. The Google message’s useful bits are lost in a presentation that invites me to dismiss the messages.

The big omission was Google’s email archiving service. Yep, Google does low cost email archiving and offers eDiscovery services. That’s a big part of enterprise search to me. Probably an oversight or a business not integrated into the Google Search Appliance that Google doesn’t want to explain to me. Omission works pretty well because most people have little knowledge of the Postini hosted services that are not bundled with the Google Search Appliance. Same content, just not actually “universal”. Ah, details.

Agree? Disagree? 20-somethings, please, explain what I am not appreciating in this Googley advertorial.

Stephen Arnold, October 25, 2008

Stephen Arnold, October 25, 2008


6 Responses to “A Google Advertorial”

  1. Brian on October 25th, 2008 8:51 am

    You’re a great blogger, Stephen. I appreciate your familiarity with both enterprise search and publishing, and this article was particularly insightful on both topics.

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on October 25th, 2008 1:23 pm


    I am delighted you find the addled goose’s comments useful. I know for a fact that Google thinks I should be killed, defeathered, and turned into paté. Quite an honor, don’t you agree?

    Stephen Arnold, October 25, 2008

  3. Daniel Tunkelang on October 26th, 2008 10:18 pm

    I thought about calling it an advertorial, but I decided to give Google and Forbes the benefit of the doubt. Still, I agree with you that I didn’t find the article very compelling.

    Some discussion over at The Noisy Channel:

  4. Fierce Pierce for Google Search Appliance : Beyond Search on November 6th, 2008 12:03 am

    […] was a good restatement of the Google game plan for enterprise search. I wrote about the essay here in Beyond Search, not really taking issue with the content or its assertions. I remain baffled why […]

  5. Endeca vs. Google, Round 2 | The Noisy Channel on November 26th, 2008 2:20 pm

    […] Nitin Mangtani published a sponsored “commentary” on Forbes that some viewed as an advertorial (though Google objected to that […]

  6. Stephen E. Arnold on November 26th, 2008 9:27 pm

    Endeca vs Google,

    Google objects to quite a bit these days. Layoffs, class stratification, and a slowing of the Google money machine make even superstars cranky.

    Stephen Arnold, November 26, 2006

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