Advertisers and Ad Agencies: “Government Regulation of Google...Would be a Disaster for Consumers and Advertisers Alike”

10/24/11 | 4:12:00 PM

Google is “Quite Transparent,” “Has Revolutionized” Small Businesses

Since the Federal Trade Commission launched its review of Google’s business, advertisers and ad agencies have been weighing in with their thoughts:

Small Businesses: “Government Involvement...Would Suffocate” the “Ever Changing...Online Advertising Arena”; “The Government Has it All Wrong”

Ross Twiddy, Director of Marketing, Twiddy (vacation rental company)

Corolla, North Carolina

“As a small second generation family business on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Google’s advertising system has revolutionized our vacation rental business Even though the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a small area, we’re competing on a national level for summer vacations, and we’re able to host more summer family vacations than ever before. In our experience, I cannot see the logic in government involvement as I believe this would suffocate the resources required for the ever changing and sophisticated online advertising arena.” (Blog, July 10, 2011)

Kevin Bross,
Wentzville, Missouri

“No company we have dealt with has ever come close to offering as many resources for improving our business as Google...They offer tools and data that help us to better help our customers. We don't use Google because we have to, we use Google because we want to....Customers don't use Google because they have to, there are many search engines. They want to, because it works.” (Corporate Blog, August 11, 2011)

Quinn Moo, President, Joy Jewelers

Torrance, California

"Since my firm began advertising with Google in 2002, Google has become increasingly transparent, not less so. There is no reason for the FTC to regulate the paid and organic search results that appear on Google." (Statement, July 25, 2011)

Linzie Venegas, Sales and Marketing Manager, Ideal Shield (industrial parts company)

Detroit, Michigan

"Last year, we received over one million advertising impressions on Google, but we only paid when people clicked on our ads. With direct mail, I would have paid for all of those impressions, regardless of whether people opened it or not. With Google, we’re not locked in like we would be with a quarterly print ad schedule, even if it's not working for us. And we use Google Analytics to help us design our website and develop our advertising. It seems like the government has a lack of knowledge about what Google actually does and how it helps businesses." (Statement, July 29, 2011)

Tom Nightingale, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Con-way (freight and logistics company)

Ann Arbor, Michigan

“To say that Google has revolutionized our advertising strategy would be an understatement. To say that Google has abused its power would be entirely inaccurate in my view. In short, Google’s model works, it represents the best of the free market and innovation and as an advertiser and a user myself I certainly don't support any action by the federal government to intervene in Google's business.” (BtoB Blog, August 2, 2011)

Mark Aistrope, CEO, Meeting Tomorrow (audio-visual service)

Chicago, Illinois

“Based on the early reporting of what’s being alleged I think the government has it all wrong...Google, more than any other company I know, has helped drive measurable productivity gains in the US economy and around the world, allowing companies to do more with less, and grow and create jobs. Google is a productivity multiplier for Meeting Tomorrow—both as advertiser and as search users. Google ads provides us with the most efficient and cost-effective way that I know of to reach customers in the market for our services. Google allows us to stretch our marketing dollars farther than any other advertising medium or other means of acquiring customers.” (Blog, July 25, 2011)

Rich Craig, Owner Rent-A-Relic (rental car company)

Oakland, California

"The rental car industry is dominated by large corporations, and while Rent-A-Relic has been able to compete by providing good value and great service, it has sometimes been difficult to break through in our advertising. Then I started a Google AdWords pay-per-click campaign and the playing field has really leveled out. I know that more new customers are willing to contact us and eventually rent cars from us because our pay-per-click listing is similar to the listings for the national brands. Given how well it's worked for my business, I certainly don't see any problems here that the government needs to address." (Statement, July 27, 2011)

Cheryl Richardson, Chief Operating Officer, Concept To Promotion (marketing services company)

Benton Harbor, Michigan

“I own a small business in a small town, and Google AdWords has allowed me to expand my reach to large corporate customers. The success of Google advertising is due to the incredible metrics and the ability for advertisers to choose their level of online participation and at what costs. You can't get that with print ads! This is fair business at its finest, and regulation is not needed.” (Statement, July 27, 2011)

Louis Green, President and CEO, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council

Detroit, Michigan

“Google has been an amazing partner in maximizing the competitiveness of minority businesses and in leveling the playing field for small business owners. The success they have enabled in the communities we serve has transformed companies, neighborhood, careers and lives. Google is a success enabler, and I don’t think the federal government needs to do anything about that except get out of the way.”

Rich Masterson, Chairman, CampaignGrid (online ad platform for candidates and causes)

Fort Washington, Pennsylvania

“The fact that Google has become a worldwide leader should not make us feel threatened; it should make us feel proud. Our Government would do well to think about ways of encouraging success stories like Google, not spend taxpayer money on multi year investigations into something as innocuous as advertising. Consumers and advertisers have a choice and if Google violates the trust of either then the market will respond accordingly and it will require neither years of investigation or the using precious taxpayer funds of a country already overburdened with national debt.” (Blog Post, July 15, 2011)

Lance Trebesch, the CEO of the BBB Accredited and Ticket River, Harlowton, Montana

“Google is actually making it possible to compete on a national or global scale, even if you are, for instance, a small online printing company in a tiny town in Montana. [...] In this sense, Google is not only empowering to small businesses, but also to the shoppers who patronize those businesses. Anyone who has ever said, “I don’t have the time to go out and shop; I’ll just get it online,” knows how liberating this model is. This global marketplace allows savvy consumers to find lower prices while searching an almost limitless selection of goods. Google is great for consumers, great for businesses, and overall, great for the economy.” (Better Business Bureau Blog, October 20, 2011)

Mike Grehan, Incisive Media

New York, NY

“You have no more right to rank at Google than the billions of other pages on the web. And yet some people possess a bet-the-farm mentality when they secure a top rank on Google's search results page and then whine when they lose it. [...]

“And I'd far rather they [Google] were working on the ranking algorithm with the vastly superior knowledge they have of information retrieval on the web. Far more than I'd have some government senator who has no idea what a meta tag is, let alone a hyperlink based algorithm, sticking his nose in where, to be honest, it's not really wanted and not really necessary.” (Search Engine Watch, October 10, 2011)

Rob Garner, VP, iCrossing

New York, NY

I would make the case that the right to create an algorithm is also a free-speech issue, right up there with the free speech rights of equal network access. Imagine if it was suggested that every New York Times article was approved by an oversight committee. [...]

“Yes, Google does wield a tremendous amount of power. Yes, there is only one #1 result. Yes, some marketers have highly flawed business strategies that rely on Google natural search results exclusively. Yes, Google and all search engines are biased by design. Government regulation of an algorithm will not change any of this.” (Search Insider, October 12, 2011)

Ad Agencies: “If Google Screws Up, It Will Lose Advertisers’ Business in a Heartbeat”

Robert Murray, Global CEO, iProspect (digital marketing agency)

Boston, Massachusetts

"Our firm helps businesses large and small manage their search advertising campaigns, and based on our experience we just don't see the need for the federal government to get involved in policing search or online advertising. The online advertising space is dynamic and highly competitive -- with new formats like mobile and social competing for advertisers' attention -- and if Google screws up, it will lose advertisers' business in a heartbeat." (Statement, June 22, 2011)

Nick Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Ampush Media

San Francisco, CA

“We use Google’s search advertising tools as well as other internet advertising platforms to identify consumers who are interested in furthering their education on behalf of our university clients. Instead of Google fixing a price for valuable search queries, Google designed an auction process where the advertisers set the price; Google’s ability to engage in monopolistic price gouging is eliminated through this system design. Google also allows smaller, newer advertisers to compete on the same playing field as large, established advertisers. Google’s products and services do a lot to facilitate competition in many industries including education marketing, and there are many other high-flying media & technology companies that compete pretty squarely with Google. Depending on the outcome, the FTC investigation could potentially hurt competition in the internet advertising industry by handcuffing one of the many important players. I hope that does not happen. I’d prefer to see a fair fight.” (Statement, August 22, 2011)

Search Advertising Agencies: “No Antitrust Case...Due to the Way Pricing is Paid Search”

Craig Macdonald, Chief Marketing Officer, Covario (online advertising agency)

San Diego, California

“[Google is] quite transparent when it comes to how they determine Quality Score, and advertisers who do not benefit from this understanding either have not put in the work, or are simply unhappy with the result (they are bidding on irrelevant keywords, which hurts quality score, which raises price – those are the publicized rules of the auction – play or don’t play)....Our position then, as it is now, is that there is no antitrust case in paid search due to the way pricing is set in the market for paid search keywords.[…] Google provides a service to the market – it organizes information more efficiently than anyone else out there right now, and makes it available to consumers and to advertisers. And they should be allowed to do so unfettered.” (Multichannel Merchant, June 27, 2011)

George Michie, CEO, Rimm-Kaufman Group (search marketing agency)

Charlottesville, Virginia

Government regulation of Google or the search industry would be a disaster for consumers and advertisers alike. Legislating organic search algorithms would destroy the incentives to innovate, and is completely unnecessary as Google's incentive is to provide results that the users want. If Google fails in that, users are one click away from a different search experience with a different engine. The notion that somehow advertisers are hostages to Google is also absurd. There is an ever expanding array of advertising opportunities online and off; Google has grown to be a major player precisely because the advertising works so well for both advertisers and consumers. Moreover, advertisers have complete flexibility in how they buy advertising from Google. Advertisers determine how much they are willing to spend for each click on each ad. The price is not set by Google, it is set by the advertiser. Google is a platform on which advertisers compete with each other. May the best companies win and may government stay out of the way!” (Statement, July 15, 2011)

Industry Experts: “If No Consumers Are Harmed,” What’s the Problem?

Chris Boggs, President, Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) and Director of Search and Media Thought Leadership, Rosetta

"It's no exaggeration to say that Google's innovations in search advertising have led to the growth of the search engine marketing industry, which today employs thousands of individuals. It's distressing to see some of Google's competitors paint a negative picture of Google, since the Google that I know has created job and economic opportunities for thousands of search advertising experts. I'm concerned by the notion that the Federal Trade Commission might use its investigation of Google to regulate search results or search advertising, especially if they don’t fully understand the industry and the current state of the ecosystem’s evolution.While I may not agree with everything that Google does, I think it would set a terrible precedent and hinder growth if the government were to start messing with Internet content. We have seen this happen in other nations, quickly resulting in international uproar and claims of unwarranted censorship. I encourage everyone in the digital marketing industry to stand with Google – mostly because I believe in the right of any publisher to determine what ii places on its Web site, and to develop a competitive free market advertising solution to cater to its visitors. If Google can be “told” what to do, who’s to say that the next step isn’t me having to send my blog posts by government regulatory team prior to publishing them." (Statement, September 26, 2011)

Robert Barocci, President, Advertising Research Foundation

“As advertising researchers, we look at the media environment and consumer media behavior - how people use online and traditional communications – and ad effectiveness. Adjusting for quality, as Google and nearly all search engines do, adds relevance, so that consumers see ads that best match their interests – a key to effective advertising. Google and its competitors include nearly all discoverable sites in their organic results for free, they do not force advertisers to pay for exposure as paid media requires. As I’m writing, proliferating media options for consumers and advertisers, such as social media and mobile communications, are changing the search marketplace through market forces, empowering anyone to locate and share information of all types for their friends, family, colleagues and strangers, perhaps providing the most relevant search results. In our view, antitrust review and action appears unnecessary, irrelevant to consumers, and potentially stifling of innovation in media and society.” (Statement, August 23, 2011)

Joe Rosenbaum, Board Member, Interactive Advertising Bureau

“At the end of the day, if consumers aren’t harmed, if no unfair competition has occurred, if no barriers to entry exist, and if no control is exercised because of dominant position—the question we must all ask is whether the government is simply targeting each 800-pound gorilla in each decade, or whether some wrong must be set right.” (Legal Bytes Blog, June 30, 2011)