In Defense Of Google

Michael Martinez and Jim Rudnick, you are both oh-so-wrong! Michael responded to Derek Gordon's column on Tuesday about the Google "Dog pile" with this rejoinder: "No market-dominant company ever gets to the top through 'quality of the service it provides' -- they get there through marketing, and Google has done PLENTY of that."

Then, Jim Rudnick "piled on" with this addition:  "As Michael stated, Google has more 'marketers' IMHO, than engineers'!" (which he later qualified with a "well, not really.")

This wasn't even my column they were responding to, but I just couldn't let those two obviously ill-informed comments go unanswered.

Mr. Martinez and Mr. Rudnick, it's reality-check time. Anyone who has ever spent any time at Google, knows anyone at Google, has read anything on the history of Google, or has spent any time trying to understand the culture at Google, knows that engineers rule supreme there -- and marketing is considered at least two rungs below, a necessary evil, which is somewhat ironic for a company whose revenues rely solely on... that's right, marketing!



You can possibly hate Google for a number of things, but subjugating the quality of their results for a quick marketing win has never been, or never will be, one of them. I've been following this company pretty much since day one, and they are obsessive about the quality of their user's experience. I may debate their approach to design or the aesthetic appeal of their interfaces. I may question their need to dominate everything. I may take exception to the intellectual arrogance that seems to occasionally seep out of Mountain View -- but I have never, ever, questioned their priorities. Their domination in search comes squarely on the shoulders of their high regard for their user, and not one of their serious competitors would ever dispute that.

This Google "marketing" that Michael speaks of is a meager trickle compared to the millions that Microsoft pumped into the launch of Bing, or, lest we forget, the failed advertising campaigns of, Yahoo or even Infoseek when it was bought by Disney and became Tell me, when is the last time you launched a search on

Marketing alone will never establish a dominant search player. Number one is established solely on the strength of its user's experiences. You might want to do a comparison of market shares and marketing expenditures to get that point driven home more forcefully, Michael.

In fact, I would shudder to think that any dominant player in any industry got to where they are based on marketing alone, and not by adequately meeting or exceeding their customer's expectations. I live by another adage, "Nothing ever killed a bad product faster than good advertising." I talked about Jim Lecinski's concept of the ZMOT a few columns back. Marketing provides just one input into the chain reaction that Lecinski chronicles. Let's walk through this again. Because this is more than just a rebuttal, it's an illustration for anyone who shares the same delusional view that marketing is all it takes to win a market.

Marketing provides a stimulus that can spark a buyer's interest. After this stimulus, the buyer then researches to make sure the hyperbole of the marketing message bears at leas some passing resemblance to reality. This is Lecinski's ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth). Then, there's the FMOT (First Moment of Truth).  This is when a buyer actually picks a product off the proverbial "shelf."  Finally, there's the SMOT (Second Moment of Truth), which is the buyer's actual experience with the product.

If marketing and the buyer's reality are aligned, these elements create a virtuous cycle, where the promise of the ad matches the experience delivered. The result is ongoing brand loyalty.

But if all the company cares about is marketing, it all starts to fall apart in the ZMOT and the SMOT. The cycle is destroyed and you have a pissed-off customer telling anyone who will listen that they've been duped. That's why Jim Lecinski (speaking on behalf of Google) rightly stresses the importance of the ZMOT for marketers. It's where the rubber starts to hit the road.

I don't care if Messrs. Rudnick and Martinez have a sore spot for Google. I do care when they imply those 13 years plus of producing high-quality search results and deeply caring about the user are irrelevant, and that Google bought its way to the top of the search engine heap through marketing. That's dangerous thinking, for any industry. We have enough crap to fix in corporate America without letting offhand comments like these go unanswered. It's this kind of thinking that got us into the mess we currently find ourselves.

Let's appreciate quality when we see it, and not assume the whole world is a sucker for a quick pitch!

9 comments about "In Defense Of Google ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Aaron Bradley from SEO Skeptic, August 18, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.

    Well said. I've argued before that you don't get to the top of the search heap and stay there by marketing alone, as there's more than one search engine out there and people *will* bail on it if there's better results available.

    Your Bing example is particularly apt. Neither the $100 million that was pumped into Bing when Live Search was relaunched under the Bing nor the bundling of Bing with IE (the use of that browser being the single greatest predictor of Bing use - and try even adding Google to IE9) has had much of an impact on overall market share in North America, and has barely made a tick in European search engine market share. Marketing doesn't always triumph, no matter how much money you pump into a campaign. Or maybe there's more Zunes out there then I'm aware of.

    (Way back in the day I put a post on threadwatch pillorying for their incomprehensible "its the algorithm" campaign, and was in turn pilloried for criticizing how Ask spent their marketing dollars. One way or another the campaign certainly didn't help Ask overcome their market share woes; it is, of course, no longer a search engine.)

  2. Stephanie Holland from Holland+Holland Advertising, August 18, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.

    Well said, Gord.

    Poor marketing keeps a good product from seeing it's potential.

    Great marketing, as you said, kills a bad product faster than anything.

    But a great product will win out. I think that was proven with Buzz, Orkut and Wave. All Google, same marketing... but not good products. As the cliche now goes... the power has shifted to the consumer and no matter the fluff of the marketing, expectations are greater.

  3. Derek Gordon from Re:Imagine Group, August 18, 2011 at 4:20 p.m.

    Testify! (A better response than I could've written myself, Gord.)

  4. Jim Dugan from PipPops LLC, August 18, 2011 at 5:19 p.m.

    It reminds me of two companies.

    First, Groupon. Every time I try to see something positive in their "marketing" business model, an article comes along like this that reminds of what's not good for the SMOT aspect for any business whenever using Groupon.

    The second company, Google. Not Google in the USA, I really don't think they need any additional defense, here.

    But, look at them outside the US, somewhere like China, whether marketing or searching being the key to their success here, they still fall very short of Baidu in China.

    I have my own ideas, but the facts with respect to both company amaze me.

  5. Michael Martinez from SEO Theory, August 18, 2011 at 5:21 p.m.

    I look at all the press events, all the media outreach, all the conference outreach, and all the Google-centric promotions they run across their network and I see marketing.

    LOTS of marketing.


  6. Gordon Hotchkiss from Out of My Gord Consulting, August 19, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.

    Michael..the amount of Google marketing, even as you define it, still doesn't negate the impact of Google's dedication of user experience. I stand by my original opinion.

  7. Jim Rudnick from CanuckSEO, August 19, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.

    As @Micheal said, Gord...QED. But that aside, if you go to industry events, if you sit and listen to various SEO types across see - or rather you should hear what I hear....

    That the algo is flawed. This is a product of engineers - yes who outnumber the marketers by I'm sure a factor of 100:1....

    I haven't had the time to do any kind of a numerical analysis on the vast - and I mean vast - number of SMBs who post on the multitude of Google help forums -- but that number continues to appeal to anyone for help - as Google does NOT seem to be doing that.

    What am I left with? There is no other search engine than Google and for an SMB who finds something wrong, they suffer and there appears to be no one listening.

    Been in marketing long enuff to know that when you face that type of issue - "spin" maybe the only response. Hence my comment....

    Sorry that you disagree....I just wish you ran an SEO firm and had the same type of client issues that I face...sigh....

    The algo is broken....I have no sore spot whatsoever, Gord....I just report on what I see. I do not believe that Google got to the top via marketing - I know how they got there. My only point is that they are ignoring the tens of thousands of SMBs who have issues....from what I read too, legitimate least in the Google forums such a read can arrive at only the same conclusion....hence the marketing "spin"!

    The algo is broken....


    PS go to read say the past 6 months alone of Mike's great Local Search blog....see the issues.....and if you come up with a diff conclusion that I do - post it here!

  8. Gordon Hotchkiss from Out of My Gord Consulting, August 19, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.


    I've ran an SEO firm since 1999..try Googling us..I think the algo is working well enough to at least confirm that.

  9. Barry Welford from SMM Internet Marketing Consultants, August 19, 2011 at 3:45 p.m.

    As usual it's important to define terms and make sure you're both talking about the same animal.

    My definition of marketing is effective two way communication between supplier and customer. Anything less than that is better described by some other term. Try advertising, promotion, .. even some types of customer service are not really two way.

    By this definition of marketing, Google has not done very much marketing at all. That is why there are so many dissatisfied customers. You've got to be customer-centric rather than product-driven. Google is an excellent example of the second. They certainly produce some great products.

Next story loading loading..