Demonizing the Ever Helpful Alaphabet Google XXVI Things

September 2, 2017

Gentle reader, I am horrified at the indirect vilification of my beloved Alphabet Google XXVI things. You must judge for yourself. Navigate to “A Serf on Google’s Farm.” A serf, as I understand the term is a person who is in thrall to a noble. The noble provides the land, and the serf the labor. As our modern world embraces the precepts of the Great Chain of Being, serfs are below the one percent. Thus, it is. In the Dark Ages, one did not grouse too much about the one percent. Bad things could happen because that was the mechanism for the Great Chain of Being. It was a perception that the top spot was occupied by a deity. The lower levels were ranked by their station in life. In short, it was and is good to be up near the top of the pecking order.

The write up makes clear that publishers find themselves lower in the Great Chain of Digital Being than they were in the pre-Google era. Yep, when the king disowned an annoying son, life was not as good outside the castle as it was inside the castle.

Publisher types are now looking at the castle from the mud and straw vantage points close to the pigs and chickens. Big change. The trip to the castle may have been short in terms of steps but long in terms of the Great Chain of Being.

The article points out that Google has put publishers and related content types in the squalid hovels built near the castle walls. Life can be fun when the wine and mead are available, and the harvest is good. But at other times, those lice and muddy lanes were a bummer.

The write up points out that the Google has assembled an advertising Catch 22. Get with the program and you may be squeezed by the program. Thus it was for serfs and thus it is for those who have little choice but accept Google’s way of life.

I noted three statements which characterize the world as perceived by a digital serf:

  1. as the adage puts it, if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. Google isn’t doing us any favors. We get these services for free because Google’s empire and the vast amounts of money it brings in every year is built on the unimaginable amounts of data that come from, among other places, DoubleClick for Publishers and Analytics. We’re [the article author’s company] just one of a kabillion [sic] sites allowing Google to harvest our data.
  2. Running TPM [the article author’s company] absent Google’s various services is almost unthinkable. Like I literally would need to give it a lot of thought how we’d do without all of them. Some of them are critical and I wouldn’t know where to start for replacing them. In many cases, alternatives don’t exist because no business can get a footing with a product Google lets people use for free.
  3. And in general Google tends to be a relatively benign overlord….Google’s monopoly control is almost comically great. It’s a monopoly at every conceivable turn and consistently uses that market power to deepen its hold and increase its profits. Just the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practices.

My view is that the Google has been operating in a consistent manner since it was inspired by the Yahoo, GoTo, Overture pay to play model. That shift from better Web search to the ad thing took place before the Google initial public offering. That works out to 13 years ago.

In that span of time, publishers wanted the world to be like the good old days of print which put the publishers in the role of gatekeepers and power brokers. Nice try, but publishers were unable to adapt to the Googley world. Just like the hapless retail giants, the failure to take advantage of digital opportunities has put Sears, JC Penny, and other “giants” outside the castle walls. Wattle, not Walmart, is the go to operating model.

Forget Google. Had there been no Google, another outfit would have filled the void. Google is a reflection of today’s version of the Middle Ages.

Do I feel sorry for traditional publishers? Nope. These outfits embrace systems and methods like XML, slicing and dicing, and surfing on Google as the skateboard wheels that will carry them to the future.

The wheels spin but don’t win X Games competitions.

Now Google itself is vulnerable. There is Facebook, the Chinese outfits, and the Bezos transformer machine. Perhaps publishers should think about ways to exploit Google’s flaws instead of grousing about Google being Google for 13 years. The Alphabet Google XXVI things are not likely to change their stripes overnight.

Publishers might find life easier if they quit complaining and name calling. Meeting user needs might be a path forward. But Google bashing is so easy and so much fun. Figuring out how to make money is work. Who wants to do that?

Stephen E Arnold, September 2, 2017


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