Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spywitness News

I’ve been asked dozens of times over the past few weeks about my take on radio’s relationship with Google. I don’t have an answer. There’s no measure to compare it to. Some believe it could be beneficial to radio sales. Others compare it to opening the chicken coop to the fox.

Have you heard the comparison between Google and Clear Channel? Google can also used as a verb while Clear Channel is an expletive.

Here’s another comparison. Google encourages creativity while mediocre is the new good and excellent is the new “your fired” at Clear Channel.

Clear Channel had a unique impact on radio. Just not the one they expected. They forced listeners to turn it off and drove advertisers away.

Google has been around roughly half the time it took for the Clear Channel Empire to rise and fall. In five years – short even by cyberspace standards - Google established itself as the search engine of choice. Now, they're out to rule all media. They’ve already made inroads into newspapers, magazines, and radio advertising and about to do the same for television. Google’s game plan is to control the advertising world and redefine brand identity.

A few weeks back I was asked if given the opportunity what slogan would I pick for Google. I said i3: indomitable, insistent, and inexorable.

They make no secret of their goal to exploit both personal and professional data. Face facts. Privacy is so overrated. We live an age of identity craving where generations bare their hearts and souls and whatever else to be seen and heard on My Space, Facebook, and other social networks. Counting cyber friends is more important than real-life relationships.

By the way, did you hear the one about Clear Channel launching its own social networking site? Actually, it's not a joke.

Two years ago, Google quietly launched a personalized search, which by its very use permits storage of an individual’s surfing history.

Business runs on metrics and Google plans to offer whatever research is needed for any industry anywhere – and their pitch is having the skill to do it better, faster, and cheaper than those old school research firms.

Two words we won’t be using five years from now: focus groups.

Three worlds, which are already obsolete, call out research.

Google wants to – let me rephrase that – Google is creating a world – yes, world - where all promotion, marketing, advertising, and programming will be fully targeted to individual consumers based on their wants, needs, and fantasies. Its end result is to systematize and manage worldwide information. Google already knows more about its users than they know about themselves.

Still don’t believe it? Recently, Google launched a new technology – Project Panama, a profiling service, which allows them to monitor what users do on its portal and target advertising most related to their Internet use habits.

What does that mean for present-day perceptual research? Remember the lyrics to that Eagles song: They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along.

What about those privacy zealots claiming that Google users know not what they do and insist the company should be flagged for invasion of privacy? It doesn't wash. What they're doing is perfectly legal. Use grants permission.

Google also made a deal with the feds to limit its information storage time to two years. Two years? Radio formats live and die in that time line. Remember Jammin’ Oldies? Free-FM?

Then there’s iGoogle. It’s been around for a while – but was recently rebooted, retooled, and relaunched as a service that allows users to personalize their search page and publish their own content.

You would be correct to presume that the Silicon hit the fan over Google’s $3.1 billion proposed purchase of Double Click. Privacy watchdogs barked themselves hoarse claiming it provided Google another opportunity to strip away even more user privacy by doing a clickstream - combining an individual’s web search record with Double Click’s cookies. Sense a pattern here?

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the merger unless it can guarantee a user’s privacy.

Let me ask you something. When was the last time you cleaned out your cookies? Case closed.

Armed with all this saleable information, Google can peddle your personal information – remember you gave them to right to use it – for purposes ranging from divorce, bankruptcy, arson, and God only knows what else.

Big deal. The health insurance business has already done a pretty amazing job of denying coverage to those with – here comes more double-speak – pre-existing conditions. What's the dif?

Litigation against Google? Bring it on. If your lawyers want to take on their lawyers – let the games begin. Isn’t that what the Mays family used to say to anyone threatening a lawsuit against those ethical titans at Clear Channel? You know the game. First they’d ignore you, then they’d laugh at you, then they’d threaten to toss you into a shark tank filled with their well-connected high powered attorneys.

So, I don’t really have much of a take on radio’s relationship with Google…or do I?


John said...

Personally I have no problem with the info gathering and targeting. Maybe I'm naive and gullible but I'd rather have ads targeted to me than wade through ads that don't relate to my needs/wants.
As for cleaning out cookies, I do clean out temp files and history on a regular basis but because I have cookies on sites that remember my password, ie., Amazon, ebay it would just be a hassle.

fasolamatt said...

I'm not going to comment on Google taking over the world; I know a couple of companies where Google is an expletive, and Clear Channel isn't.

Here's where it'll be interesting: Clear Channel has lots of crap inventory (12 minutes an hour in overnights, lots of weekend, etc). Can they make more money with Google than they can with the folks who buy remnant and resell it to direct marketers? Maybe. But it's not a lot of money.

Can their inventory management solutions allow for Google to have prime inventory? Lots of spots ending in 800 numbers repeated three times where I live during drive times, so maybe. Again, the remnant folks are the competition, and Google has to be a more imaginative and lucrative solution to win out. My guess is they'll bleed some serious cash before they succeed, and ultimately their solution won't be much different than some of the remnant solutions that are out there now.


Lou Santini said...

This is why YOU should be in charge of the FCC...

Anonymous said...

I read yesterday where eBay is joining the radio sales auction business. This may be the quick fix radio is looking for to fill inventory. This may also provide an opportunity for clients to go through one of these services and get a better rate than if they dealt directly with stations. Let the bidding begin. Will account executives become obsolete?