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Google – not an advertising company

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You’ve seen this meme, right? It usually goes something like this:

Google, the search advertising giant …

Can we stop spreading this foolishness? Yes, Google, FaceBook, Twitter, and many other web-based businesses use advertising as a primary source of revenue. But strangely, I’ve never heard anyone refer to NBC, ABC, and CBS as advertising companies. I’ve also never heard anyone call American Electric Power a billing company, or Toyota a sales/financing conglomerate. We don’t categorize companies by the most naive interpretation of their revenue model.

But it’s worse than that. Google doesn’t offer the most basic services that an advertising company would offer. Will they plan your campaign for you? Help you identify your target demographic? Produce ad copy? The primary advertising related service that Google offers is a place to display your ads. Notice that this is a service that actual advertising agencies do not offer.

If we think for a second about what other companies offer this service (TV, radio, print media), we can recognize that it would be far more accurate to call Google a media company. But don’t do that either, of course.

If you are concerned about the power and influence that Google has, as our primary distributor of internet information, say it. Just slapping an inappropriate label on the company will erode your credibility and weaken your argument.

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Written by Eric Wilson

January 3, 2012 at 6:19 am

Posted in commentary

Tagged with , , ,

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