02 January 2007

Advertisements where you wouldn't expect them

The latest buzz doing the round of all the 'well-known' bloggers is how Google has begun pushing it's own services. Unfortunately or not, this is true. If you do a search for anything which has a remote connection with a service Google offers, you'll see an advertisement pop-up right at the top of your search results, offering you a link to that service.

Some look at this as Google going against it's own principle of 'Don't be evil' and that they are beginning to reach the fine line between breaking their own principles in favour of getting more people to use their services and up their ante in the stock market.Arrington sees this as the the beginning of the end to Google's goody-goody impression on people. Blake Ross looks at it as Google going completely against it's principles, and Om Malik is trying to find answers. My question is, 'Is it really that wrong?' Google like every other company deserves to promote their own products and services, even more so because their's are 'comparatively' better than the competitors. Why 'wouldn't' someone want to try out a Google product/service over others? Google is just trying to be more visible to people. With it's influence and reputation, this might be a threat to other companies wanting to foray into the fields Google already has a strong hold in, but it's not like Google is actually 'trying' to kill off the competition. True, Google's 'tips' (as they are called) appear above everything else (including results from your Desktop index file search) but they are only for a few noted products like Blogger, Picasa and Google Calendar. Advertisers ads are in their proper place on the right, and search results follow immediately below the tip.

As pointed out by CNN, Google's ads and tips are virtually invisible as compared to flashing banners and animated pictures used by companies like Microsoft and YahooBoth use 'huge' advertisements all over their pages, including something as simple as their mail services. They don't allow a POP access, which means you 'have' to see those ads if you want to see your mail. Google still allows you to kill out the invisible ads by using a mail client.

This also applies to search, with Google offering a cut down version of their search through their AJAX Search API which shows no ads (as of now). This doesn't seem like the tactics of a company really 'pushing' their advertisements.
, and they don't offer alternatives either to get a minimal version without the ads. I don't see what there is to complain really.

Advertisements have always been a part of media. Wherever people go, ads will follow. Wherever 'ads' can go, they will. It's as simple as that. Google's ads 'should' take precedence over others, especially because their services are reliable. Except for a few slips (Google Answers for example), no application has failed it's users. If you search for blogs, it's pretty understandable that you 'might' want to start blogging. A tip to help you get started with the best free blogging platform isn't that bad, is it? It 'might' be a little unethical to put their own products before 'everything' else, but that little detail can be ignored, because of the fact that we love Google! Even Facebook is doing it, the only social network to remain free of advertisements till now!

I guess all this is the reason of the tag line Google became famous with. They capitalised on the fact that bigger companies were 'using' their status and power to monopolise their content (even if they were bad) over others. Now that Google is trying to do the same, people are drawing comparisons between what happened then, and what is happening now (even if Google's products deserve a first look). It doesn't make so much a difference to the common person, I'm sure. They'd just ignore the tip, probably because each of those products has been covered and reported as front page news when they were released, so it's quite plausible that even my grandmother would have seen it. If it really bothers you, get Adblock and add the filter.

This is the simple point that I argue. Google offers us the choice, which others don't. Why do we then still tell them, 'Don't be evil'?

Google has now taken down (maybe temporarily) the tips. I noticed this when yesterday searching for ways of having an offline calendar sync with Google Calendar didn't show the tips to sign up for GCal. I say maybe temporarily because this might be a response to the negative feedback of many bloggers, including influential ones like Arrington (who discovered the take down as well) and Blake Ross. There has been no official announcement, let's wait and watch what Google has in store for us.

I thought they had removed their tips. What is this new thing now?

I've seen one of this, and an advertisement about blogging with Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Atleast, these are still unobtrusive, and not as much in the public eye as the previous 'tips' were.