It has been an interesting few weeks for Google:
- The EU have launched an official investigation into Google’s business practices.
- Look like they are acquiring local coupon goliath Groupon for a rumoured $5.6 Billion.
- Have added to their algorithm to filter businesses with perceived bad customer feedback.
- Have launched boutiques.com as they advance into ecommerce territory.
- Highlighted social media signals that may affect ranking of a web page.
- Have had numerous product updates.
- The list goes on.
When you read the magnitude of some of these elements you cannot help but admire how they appear to act nimbly and in an entrepreneurial way and also appear to take in their stride investigations that would finish most businesses.
Having said that the quiet (or not so quiet) assault on the new markets (for Google) and further dominance they are gaining across our lives, that is driven from data that you and I provide, is really going to change the ecommerce landscape for ever.
Lets take Googles recent more aggressive push into price comparison. They don’t dip their toe in the water they go straight after the juggernaut. Financial Services – probably one of the most lucrative industries for lead generation online.
Do a search for mortgages or credit cards – number one spot – Googles own comparison engine. Don’t under estimate the significance of this – they are basically giving themselves free number one PPC ad slot. This is huge – the volume is incredible – the money they receive for each lead will be huge and margins will be extremely high. Much, much higher than their competitors. How and why did they choose this market? – the likes of you and I told them this is the most lucrative. They have our adwords PPC data, our Google Analytics data, our conversion data, our landing page data, click data of users that land on our pages etc etc. Oh and yes they also own their own affiliate network so no real middlemen to snip away at margin either.
Lather rinse and repeat.
Boutiques.com – apparel – same model (more or less) CPA driven – they drive into fashion.
Where next – who knows. But it will be somewhere and how deep will this get? Socks, skateboards, wedding favors, baby gifts ?
Of course we knew this was coming – people denied it, but it was relatively easy to spot in hindsight. Oh lets buy an affiliate network- what the heck else are they going to do with it.
And yet we continue to feed the mighty G with data that may one day put us out of business.
What are the alternatives – if you operate online frankly very few – but ecommerce companies must, must, must start to diversify their traffic sources and start to look at other ways of tracking and monitoring. Is this anti Google – no – this is just good business practice. You can’t rely on one (external) company to provide your livelihood.
In what other industry would a company be allowed to collect data from every customer of a product, every supplier of a product, provide the marketing, payment and data platforms and then turn around and use that data to dominate a market, and in the same process put swathes of businesses out of business.
And the EU got pissy with Microsoft just for bundling the Internet Explorer browser – this is a significant order of magnitude higher in my book.
Of course this is my opinion, but it doesn’t take much thought to cause you sleepless nights.