In 1995 I began writing a magazine column titled Screen Net, designed to teach readers in the screen print industry about the emerging Internet. I’d taken a class at the university here in the spring of 1994 titled Internet: Introduction to the Global Information Resource.
The Internet was so new people had no idea what it was or how it worked, so I aimed to help educate them by answering basic questions each month like, “What is a browser?” and “How does email work?” Like most writers, I wrote about many things in order to learn about them.
One of my 1996 columns was about the top 25 search engines. Webcrawler, Inktomi and Yahoo were on that list, but many others as well. One search engine not on the list was Google. When Google launched in 1998 it became just one more player in a crowded niche.
From my first experience with Google I was sold. It was fast, clean, efficient, and not bogged down by advertising.
It wasn’t long before Google swept past the competition, and it’s name became a verb. “Let’s Google it and see what we find.” What Google had done was build a better mousetrap and everyone seemed to love it.
Success brings many rewards, and Google’s founders and employees alike experienced these rewards in abundance. As a marketing professional I likewise benefited from Google’s success. They were so dominant in the search market that I didn’t have to run online ads in the other 20 or 30 competitors because Google was pre-eminent.
Google made things easy for Internet surfers, researchers and marketers. It could be argued that they were the equivalent of our national highway system and all the other search engines were quaint relics like the bypassed Route 66.
Unfortunately, success makes you a target as well.
Yesterday, a group of 48 states initiated an antitrust probe against Alphabet, the owner of Google. All kinds of motivations are probably at work. It may be that a certain Texas governor is seeking to make a name for himself by slaying a dragon. Or it could be orchestrated by the many “losers” in this search engine game, sour grapes.
The Good Part of Google’s Search Dominance
For marketers, Google’s near monopoly excellence has had some benefits. First, if you only have to deal with Google, then there is only one set of rules. If Google were splintered and you had to advertise on 12 different search engine platforms to reach the same number of people, your internal online marketing staff would have to stay up to date with 12 different companies’ rules. This alternative is inefficient.
As for the privacy matters Facebook, Amazon and Google are being scrutinized for, that is a wholly different matter. It’s probably good to dig beneath the surface on these matters and require a measure of accountability. Let’s compare it to nuclear weapons treaties. Inspections enable reassurances to our own fear-stoked citizenry.
I can’t say that I know what’s best. I only know that Google made things easier for Internet users as well as for Internet marketers. Efficient is good, right?
Not everything Google touches has been golden. Check out my story Google Flops, Fizzles and Failures.