You wouldn’t pick on a 9 year-old, would ya? How ’bout a 9 year-old with glasses??
Microsoft, reeling from Halo 3‘s $170 million launch — the biggest release in entertainment history — got serious today with an assault on Google, its 9 year-old nemesis. While battle raged in anti-trust hearings before the U.S. Senate, the search giant came off looking battered, but feeling lucky, as they replaced the second ‘g’ on the Google.com homepage with a cartoon piñata in the shape of a ’9′ to commemorate its ninth year as a company. Aww… Cute, ain’t it?
Microsoft, 32, doesn’t think so. In case you missed the live coverage, News.com quotes a prepared statement from Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, who claims Google’s deal with DoubleClick is bad for advertisers, bad for consumers, bad for publishers, and — ultimately — bad for America. Says Smith:
I will be the first to admit that Microsoft is not disinterested in this issue; competitors never are. But I do think we’re in a good position of identifying important questions. We know this market very well. And it is absolutely clear to us that this merger raises serious questions that deserve serious answers.
[...] Already Google is the dominant company for one of the two main types of online advertising–namely online search ads. Roughly 70 percent of global spending on search-based advertising today flows through Google’s AdWords.
If Google is allowed to proceed with this merger, it will also obtain a dominant gateway position over the other main type of online advertising: non-search ads. Today Google and DoubleClick are the two largest competitors in this area. Combined, Google will account for nearly 80 percent of all spending on non-search ads.
If Google and DoubleClick are allowed to merge, Google will become the overwhelmingly dominant pipeline for all forms of online advertising.
This merger will almost certainly result in higher profits for the operator of the dominant advertising pipeline, but it will be bad for everyone else. It will be bad for publishers, bad for advertisers, and most importantly, bad for consumers.
Bravo, sir… Brah-voh… [Gives steely-eyed, slow hand-clap.]
OK, so maybe Google CEO Eric Schmidt wasn’t testifying, but it’s more fun to say “Smith vs. Schmidt” than “Smith vs. Drummond”. David Drummond, that is — Google’s Senior VP for Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer. The Google Public Policy Blog features Drummond’s testimony, including this excerpt:
“The online advertising business is complex, but my message to you today is simple: Online advertising benefits consumers, promotes free speech, and helps small businesses succeed. Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick will help advance these goals while protecting consumer privacy and enabling greater innovation, competition, and growth.”
“In our experience, our users value the advertisements that we deliver along with search results and other web content because the ads help connect them to the information, products, and services they seek. Simply put, advertising is information, and relevant advertising is information that is useful to consumers. The advertising we deliver to our users complements the natural search results that we provide, because our users are often searching for products and services that our advertisers offer. Making this connection is critical. In fact, we strive to deliver the ads that are the most relevant to our users, not just the ones that generate the most revenue for us.”
[...] “Google’s bottom line is this: We believe deeply in protecting online users’ privacy, and we have a strong track record of doing so. We are constantly working to innovate in our privacy practices and policies. Some have asked questions about privacy protections in connection with the DoubleClick acquisition, but for us privacy does not begin or end with our purchase of DoubleClick. Privacy is a user interest that we’ve been protecting since our inception.”
“We make privacy a priority because our business depends on it. If our users are uncomfortable with how we manage the information they provide to us, they are only one click away from switching to a competitor’s services. If you don’t believe me, recall that before Google, users clicked on an earlier generation of search engines like Excite, Altavista, Lycos, and Infoseek – each extremely popular in its time. User interests effectively regulate our behavior, and user trust is a critical component of our business model.”
Although it’s too late to call this case “Smith vs. Schmidt,” perhaps we can at least nickname it “Pot vs. Kettle”? A Frank Capra movie, it ain’t…
Whether the Senate will side with Microsoft or Google remains unclear, but Google Maps satellite images of a U.S. Navy building that, well, happens to look like a swastika won’t likely do much to ease tensions with the U.S. Government.
NaturalSearchBlog‘s Chris Silver Smith first spotted this oddity:
Quite some time back, I came across this Swastika-shaped building via Google Maps, and posted the screengrab in my Flickr account. Since then, it became one of my most popular Flickr pictures, since strange stuff like this can become quickly viral. Loads of people (16,000+) have viewed the photo’s page, and then various journalists contacted me and posted the photo on news stories in Europe and elsewhere.
[...] Today, CNN reported on the swastika building, and they added one really interesting new detail: the Navy has received so much flack about having a swastika-shaped building that they’re now planning to change the shape of the building when it’s viewed from the sky to obliterate the swastika shape. They’ll be adding landscaping and structures at a cost of something like $600,000 to just make the shape less offensive to people viewing from airplanes and satellite pics!
You really can’t make this stuff up, folks.
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