I read an interesting post by Jason Calcanis on whether Google was a good partner in the context of YouTube, publishers and advertising share.  

And it really resonated with me in all my conversations with agencies and partners, even most recently at the BWG Strategy Roundtable on SEO/SEM (where 90% of the discussion is SEM and not SEO where 95% of the clicks occur).    

The only entity that wins with Google is Google.   Perhaps that is why Matt Cutts, Google Spokesperson so clearly declared "Google doesn't have partners!"

Ouch.   You should take note.

Google is a Monopoly. Expect a Monopolistic Partner Policy.

I recently engaged in a conversation with some search engine experts where we talked about the real market share of Bing and Yahoo.  

Many industry stats declare it to be 30% but that is wishful thinking.   If you look at the SEO traffic from almost any sites Google Analytics, the amount of SEO traffic from Bing and Yahoo is sub-10%.  

Those 30% who use Bing and Yahoo don't search nearly as often as Googlers.  

So with over 90% search share, Google is a monopoly.

So Google sets the rules.  

And they run a very efficient marketplace, which means they balance the supply and demand of buyers and sellers with as little margin for the middle man (agencies, etc.) as possible.  

And with programatic buying methods getting more sophisticated, it's hard to establish a profitable margin without huge advertising spends.   And of course, Google is just as happy to help directly, so agencies can be easily disintermediated.

The result, costs per click are going up.  Margins and ROI are going down.  Google takes more of the pie.

Google Only Wants You to Play Their Game - Advertising

Facebook recently received a lot of bad press regarding their algorithm change which made it even harder for brands to get into the news feed.   Why?  Because brands now have to pay to get into the newsfeed of their followers with sponsored updates.   Hindering organic connections between brands and consumers means more advertising.

Google plays the same game. Over the past couple of years, Google has made it harder and harder to quantify the value and successful tactics of SEO campaigns by hiding the keywords from organic searches in analytics.  

What this means is that you might be able to see if your search traffic has gone up, but you don't know what's working which means agencies have trouble justifying their SEO spends to clients.   That's good news for Google who won't let Certified Partners state that they can help improve your rankings.   Google won't even acknowledge the practice of SEO.

Another example is click to call tracking which is critical for managing local campaign effectiveness.  Google enables it for advertising but doesn't track click-to-call on Google Places (but almost every other metric).   If you want tracking, better advertise.

Diversifying Your Effort, Delivering Better Marketing Value

The problem like dealing with any monopoly is the apparent lack of choice.  But there is a choice.  Only 2% of local businesses think pay-per-click advertising is effective.  Invest in the marketing channels that are more effective, even if the metrics are less clear.

  • Invest in SEO and spend the time educating why and how it is valuable.  Track what you can. Have faith where you don't have granular metrics (heck, even 71% of marketers think SEM has unclear ROI metrics)

  • Invest in growing and leveraging owned media channels.  If you have a direct line to consumers, you don't have to pay to play.  Email, social, etc.

  • Invest in channels that grow in value over time.  Once you stop paying for advertising, you get no additional value.  Focus your advertising on the owned channels.  If you have to play monopoly rules, use them to build independence.

We are big believers in the power of content marketing and we are not alone.  Check out the Google trends on Content Marketing vs search engine marketing.   It's still only 1/5th of "Pay Per Click" but look at the slopes of the lines.  People are already shifting their budgets.  Are you?

 

(The post Should You Really Put All Those Eggs in Google's SEM / PPC Basket? appeared first on LocalVox.)

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