|NYT: You’ve got a friend…|
One of the hallmarks of an effective PR operation is the ability to get outlets with high prestige to write well of your client. To my mind, there is no more effective public relations operation going than the one at Google. Not only do they have the good will of Silicon Valley’s heavy hitters and “influencers” in their corner, but also thousands, perhaps millions of bloggers and early adopters. Their magical touch extends well outside of Silicon Valley, as well, all the way to the ink-stained hallowed halls of major news outlets, including the New York Times.
There’s a piece today in the Times entitled, [“Google, Zen Master of the Market”]. The article describes Google’s growing power in the online economy, calling on academic sources to describe the “indirect network” effects of their dominance that act to inhibit competition. And yet, the full implications of that dominance are not developed — are, in fact, blunted. Parallels to Microsoft’s dominance in the PC market are invoked, but not, as one might expect to describe Google’s ad platform as the advertising “operating system” of the Net — rather, the writer takes pains to point out how the cases are different. Elsewhere in the article, serious questions about Google’s transparency and the ability of regulators to assess its behavior are raised and then, instead of seeking input from Google’s competitors or the advertisers who are constrained by the ad monopoly, the writer goes to Google for a summation in which we are told, “Google looks at what happened to Microsoft, and we’re going to follow the rules.” Whew! That’s reassuring. End of article.
The style of the writing seemed familiar so I checked and, sure enough, it was written by Steve Lohr the same writer who penned a Google [puff-piece] back in December entitled, “Google Gets Ready to Rumble with Microsoft”, in which every talking point that the Corp Comm folks in Mountain View were floating about their (non-existent) competition with Microsoft for the enterprise space was trotted out in the guise of reporting. In both cases, Lohr, either through ineptitude or something else, buries the real story: in the enterprise piece, whether Google is being led over a cliff by an Ahab-like Eric Schmidt seeking that one last go at his white whale and, in the current piece, whether the remedy to Google’s dominance of the ad market is to insist that it be opened up to competitors. In other words, if Google’s ad network is the de-facto operating system for search commerce, should it be “interoperable” and non-exclusive the way Windows was forced to be?
I would’ve enjoyed seeing Hal Varian’s response to that question.