Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

This blog has moved to:

Get this widget!
Visit the Widget Gallery

If you'd like to get an update when we post new content, please click here to subscribe via RSS or to subscribe by e-mail.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Google Joins the Let-Me-Hijack-Your-Webpage Crowd

"When Web surfers install the [Google] toolbar...and click the AutoLink button, Web pages with street addresses suddenly sprout links to Google's map service by default. Book publishers' ISBN numbers trigger links to Vehicle ID licenses spawn links to, while package tracking numbers connect automatically to shippers' Web sites."

Here we go again. First it was Gator, then Microsoft, and now Google. While I do understand that in many ways this could be an enhancement of the user experience, I have serious problems with the idea of a third party replacing content on a website it didn't create and doesn't own, without permission and with potentially disastrous consequences for the creator of the content.

And I can see this closing the big swinging door in Cyberspace that lets ordinary Joes and Janes compete as equals among the giants...because on the Web, so far, if you create a useful, well-designed site with good information, and you position the site to be found by search engines and other ways to generate traffic, the prospect can choose to patronize a part-time business working from home, that spent a hundred bucks to put up terrific content, as easily as a Fortune 100 corporation that spent millions. It's one of the few things left for the little guy in this world of increasing conglomoratization and centralization--and the implications are not pretty:

  • The site that generated the content has some kind of revenue plan--perhaps direct sales, perhaps advertising on the found page and other pages the visitor might follow, perhaps commissions from affiliate links. By redirecting the visitor to its own chosen vendors, Google is essentially stealing that revenue. Seems to me the person who created the content should be allowed to monetize it. If the creator of the content wants to send people to Amazon to buy, that should be his or her choice, and accompanied with the correct affiliate link.

  • Inevitably, traffic redirection will favor the biggest, best-established, most successful companies--because that's what visitors have heard of, and Google has stated it will reward the most popular sites. This further centralizes the economic engine in the hands of a lucky few, and marginalizes those with innovative products and approaches, but small budgets.

    So, for both economic and ethical reasons, I'd urge Google to re-examine this idea. There may be ways to implement it that address these and other concerns, but until I see them, I will oppose it.


    Post a Comment

    << Home