Google – Pure Weapon of Marketing

For the uninformed: marketing is math. Without a solid grasp of Return On Marketing, Customer Acquisition Costs, Customer Lifetime Value and a list of other marketing key performance indicators you should not call yourself a marketer.

The most visible example for the power of math over marketing is Google’s money-making machine: pay-per-click. Every aspect of pay-per-click is a result of a calculation including the fundamental PPPP of marketing:

  • Product (including features and support!)
  • Pricing (not only monetary but also time and energy!)
  • Promotion (branding, PR, advertising, sales)
  • Placing (geo, channels, market segments – gender, age, education etc.)

With more data becoming available at ever lower efforts and costs every day “Big Data” is on most marketers mind. As with most fashionable terms that have not yet clearly been defined by academia the term “Big Data” is being used (and abused) by marketers on a daily basis which try to put a slant on it fitting to whatever flavor of the term might be most conducive for the promotion of their own product.

Cathy O’Neil takes an interesting stands on the term is her recently released book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. If you are interested in the social significance of how big data and mathematics are being today, you should go out and get a copy. Cathy has been blogging for quite a while at Mathbabe, which you should be following if you are in marketing.

To Cathy, Facebook is clearly the most worrisome of all the Big Data concerns in the book. The social media giant exercises an incredible amount of influence over what information people see, with this influence often being sold to the highest bidder. Together with Amazon, Google and Apple, the US economy and society have become controlled by monopolies to an unparalleled degree, monopolies that monitor most of the populations behavior (for commercial purpose). And, in the context of government surveillance measures, Edward Snowden remarked that we are now “tagged animals, the primary difference being that we paid for the tags and they are in our pockets.” A very small number of huge extremely wealthy organizations have even greater access to those tags than the government does, recording every movement, communication with others, and even every train of thought as we interact with the web.

google will destroy the worldHowever, I think that Cathy clearly underestimates the second order effects that Google’s money machine (originally “borrowed” from Yahoo) had on the world wide web and by extension on the world at large. Google inadvertently created an entire ecosystem that spews out misinformation a million pages at a time – charitable referred to as ‘Search Engine Optimization’. And, why Internet users might spend more time on Facebook, most will turn to Google to find ‘information’ on products, services and the world at large. Since reality does not have a marketing budget, content now often written by bots serve the Google algorithm and its commercial intent. Keep in mind: if you are not paying for it – you are the product.

So, to that extent, increasing shareholder value of one entity (Google) has become the overarching principal of information distribution. And, while capitalism is the motor of most progress unrestrained capitalism and its second and third order effects are without a doubt the main driver for the destruction of the environment we live in as well as the exploitation of most people living in it.

A right to use your name

The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, France’s data protection authority,  rejected Google’s appeal against a French order to apply the right to be forgotten to all of its global Internet services and domains. According to the CNIL’s president also “this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe.”

cnil-logoGoogle’s representatvies of course disagrees with CNIL’s stance. In a blog post regarding the case, the Google’s privacy chief, Peter Fleischer, wrote: “If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place. We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”
As far as CNIL is concerned, Google must now comply with its order. “Otherwise, the President of the CNIL may designate a Rapporteur who may refer to the CNIL’s sanctions committee with a view of obtaining a ruling on this matter.” Those sanctions could be severe. According to The Guardian: “CNIL will likely begin to apply sanctions including the possibility of a fine in the region of €300,000 against Google, should the company refuse to comply with the order. Under incoming French regulation the fine could increase to between 2% and 5% of global operating costs.” For 2014, Google’s total operating costs were just under $50 billion, so potentially the fine could be from $1 billion to $2.5 billion.

If Google is fined by CNIL in this way, it can then make a formal appeal to the French supreme court for administrative justice and argue its case in detail. Since important issues are at stake for both the company and the Internet itself, and the French government is unlikely to back down in its threat to impose fines, it seems very likely that Google will end up taking this route.

Apple did not invent the iPhone or the iPad

infogear-iphoneThe first iPhone was not created by Apple released in 1998 by InfoGear Technology Corporation. In 1997, prior to the release of iPhone, Infogear entered into a partnership with Cidco of Morgan Hill, California.

The iPhone was an innovative internet appliance that featured a sliding keyboard and an LCD touchscreen that accessed an embedded web browser and an email client. It was one of the first wave of internet appliances.

On December 18, 2006, Cisco Systems re-branded an existing line of Linksys Voice over IP internet phones, as it introduced some additional models.

Linksys was acquired by Cisco in June 2003, long after the production of Infogear iPhone had ceased. Unlike its name-sake predecessor, the new iPhone devices use an existing network and proprietary protocols, such as Skype. Rebranding did not involve any feature changes or introduction of new proprietary technology.

InfoGear also developed a touch-screen tablet with stylus which they called iPad (it was never manufactured though).

If Google was a guy – eh spy

product:youGerman privacy regulators have ordered Google to give its products (“users”) control over how their data is used. The latest complaint relates to changes in Google’s privacy policies in 2012 that consolidated the company’s 60 privacy policies into one document, which also allowed the company to start collecting data on users across its online services. The ruling states that Google must seek expressed permission before it uses their data to create online user profiles across its services like email, search and its mobile products. Mr. Caspar, the Hamburg data commissioner, who previously fined Google $190,000 for illegally collecting personal information from unencrypted German Wi-Fi networks, said the company had not made sufficient changes to give users greater control over how their online information is aggregated.

Google faces penalties of up to 1 million euros (US $1.27M) if it does not comply with the ruling, according to a spokesman for the Hamburg data protection commissioner. In France, the national watchdog fined the company 150,000 Euros, or about $190,000, this year for similarly tracking and storing people’s online information. Regulators said that Google’s ability to aggregate such data without people’s consent could allow the company to ascertain individuals’ financial information, relationship status and sexual orientation, which is illegal under German law.The regulator’s comments signal the latest privacy challenge for Google, which has faced similar legal cases brought by other national regulators.

Google is further battling on a variety of other legal fronts in Europe. The company is facing renewed antitrust complaints brought by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. And the advertising giant has been stung by a recent European court decision that gives Europeans  the right to request that links to online information about themselves be removed from Internet searches.

While Google continues to manufacture headlines by creating new ‘free’ services and buying innovative companies the company still indeed generates more than 90% of its revenues from online advertising (about $5 million per hour). So, Google’s users are indeed the product it is selling to its clients – the advertisers. And the more then company knows about its product (read: ‘you’) the more valuable it is to its clients. – Read more.

Ask Mr Robot

ask mr robotAsk Mr Robot. Google, the advertising company, has acquired Boston Dynamics — the robotics and engineering company known for the development of some of the most advanced robots, including BigDog, Cheetah, and Atlas. This brings Google’s number of robot-related acquisitions to eight.

Google’s robots efforts will be led by Andy Rubin, who was formerly in-charge of Android. It is clear that Google is seriously interested in robotics. What isn’t obvious, though, is why. Is Google planning some kind of synergistic and brilliant ploy to integrate its AI and machine learning software algorithms with humanoid robots? Is this the start of a story that ultimately leads to the technological singularity and Judgment Day?