Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Google Sucks at Marketing | BNET Technology Blog | BNET

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  •  
    1

    mooks78

    03/23/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Yet, the company has revenues of 24 billion dollars a year, and
    it's brand is the 7th ranked brand in the entire world with an
    estimated value of 32 billion (Interbrand 2009 rankings). I think
    it's rather absurd to suggest Google doesn't understand
    marketing - 24 billion dollars a year from ad revenue suggests
    they have a pretty good understanding.

    There is a lot of talk about the "failure" of the Nexus One, and
    yet, these freelance journalists fail to mention that the Android
    Platform growth is outperforming almost every platform
    (including the IPhone), and will next year capture around 19%
    market share.

    Google is not in the business of consumer electronics, and the
    Nexus One was simply a platform for the company to showcase
    the Android Platform, and do so in a non threatening manner to
    its hardware partners like Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc. The
    fact that you can only buy it via their website suggests to me
    they are passively marketing the device, focusing more on the
    features and functions of Android, rather than the superiority of
    the device.

    People had criticized Android, because unlike the IPhone, it was
    a disjointed experience. The Nexus One is an Android Phone as
    Google envisioned, and it sets the bar at the same heights of
    the IPhone, where all Android partners are encouraged to follow.
    With HTC coming up with it's "sense UI", Motorola with "Blur",
    other partners with similar customizations, it was important for
    Google to showcase the platform as is, and what it's capable of
    doing.

    The rest of the criticisms seem to be more directed at their
    business model of releasing beta products, apart from polished
    products, and then criticizing their lack of adoption. It seems
    like only yesterday when I was hearing about what a failure
    Gmail was, Google Chrome was, Google Apps were, etc.

    Chrome continues to erode IE's market share. Android continues
    to erode the IPhone's market share. Google Apps continues to
    erode MS's enterprise stranglehold.

    All this, from a company that doesn't understand Marketing.

  •  
    2

    ErikSherman

    03/23/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    The ad business is mostly passively driven. Google has yet to break $1 billion in all of its other businesses combined. To put that in perspective, even an IBM or Microsoft -- hardly bastions of marketing excellence -- try to avoid businesses if they're not pretty quickly going to be a billion in revenue.

    Chrome has 5 percent share, the paid apps users are still probably under a million, its PR is poor, its marketing communications are poor, and it has bungled more product launches in more ways than pretty much any other company I can think of. You point to the Nexus One - they tried hyping that and the announcement clearly said what they were trying to achieve. They didn't achieve it.

    Financially successful? Yup - in exactly one thing. Out of that field, Google constantly trips and stumbles. If it wasn't for the cash flow that comes without them having to sell people, Google would be a small company.

  •  
    3

    PeterJ42

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Another article I agree with.

    I put it down to the company not being hungry enough as all
    these initiatives are so small compared to their ad business. You
    can just see the board meeting, with the new product squeezed
    into 10 minutes at the end and given to the junior manager.

    When Apple launches something you can just feel that they've
    bet the farm on it. When Google does so it seems to be just
    another thing they've decided to get into.

    I'm not sure, however, whether to put it down to incompetence
    or a longer game. When others fail, Google has a lot of bases
    covered in picking up the pieces.

  •  
    4

    ErikSherman

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Two agreements in one day - I may have to rest and contemplate this.

    I agree that Google does well strategically in looking ahead and in patience and knowing that you can't always force results. But in terms of the communications part of marketing, they've done such a bad job at times that the problems are more than a long game, I think. Also, after a decade, you'd think that some of the other areas would have picked up more than they have.

    I also think you have a strong point in their not being hungry enough. There's so much money coming in that they can have engineers spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that interest them. That's a lot of throwing things at the wall and seeing if they stick, and not the sort of fundamental research that IBM or the old Bell Labs did, where you can get some remarkable and powerful breakthroughs. It seems more a cross between the two, like uncontrolled product development.

  •  
    5

    kevyb

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Who's google?

  •  
    6

    robert.r.cathey

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Google relies on user evangelism to spread the word, not
    marketing. They'll get better at traditional marcom when and if
    they ever have to.

  •  
    7

    ErikSherman

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    robert.r.cathey, user evangelism *is* part of marketing, but I'm not sure that they're even good at that. Ad use has skyrocketed, but advertisers working in direct marketing are a pretty analytic and driven bunch. I think that other than search, it's been a miss, given that all the non-advertising business put together still doesn't hit a combined billion in business.

  •  
    8

    mooks78

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    I find it amusing that Google Chrome is referred to as a failure,
    and yet it recently passed Apple Safari in market share and
    continues to gain while both Internet Explorer and Firefox
    decline. If Google Chrome is a failure after a year and a half on
    the marketplace, then what does that say about the marketing
    prowess of Apple and Safari?

    Google Apps is making slow but steady progress for a product
    that's only been around for a few years. Business are like
    herds, and they follow suit only when others have first blazed a
    successful (profitable) path. Such will be the case with cloud
    computing and Google Apps - adoption will be slow, but once
    critical mass is achieved at some point in the future, suddenly
    every company will switch over.

    As a company that has 24 billion in revenue, Google's goal in
    product launches are often to protect their business rather than
    "make a quick billion". That's why I believe analysts and
    journalists are often guilty of jumping the gun in prematurely
    declaring them a failure.

    By your same measuring stick, the Microsoft's Xbox and Bing are
    complete and utter failures, as they have cost the company
    billions of dollars and barely account for any revenue. Over half
    of Microsoft's revenue is made up of two products - Windows
    and Office. Microsoft, like Google, understand the importance of
    diversifying, as they are under assault from companies like
    Google and Apple. Their investments in the living room and
    search cannot be judged by your formula of quick revenues, but
    rather are strategic long term investments.

    The same holds true for Google. They are not launching
    products with the goal to turn a quick profit. I don't understand
    why this is so lost on analysts and journalists who don't
    understand that Google is not interested in the handset
    business, but rather in ensuring their mobile platform is adopted.
    They don't care if people are accessing Google services from a
    Motorola or a Nexus One, so long as they're not being redirected
    to Microsoft or Apple's services.

    A full on marketing assault could have increased sales of Nexus
    One, but at what cost? I don't think Motorola or Samsung or
    the dozens of other partners would have taken too fondly to
    that kind of approach. Instead, it's a showcase for the
    platform, to prove to people that Google Android can compete
    with the IPhone on features and doesn't require the window
    dressing that every Android partner seems intent on including.
    Additionally, those partners often sign exclusive agreements
    with carriers, further limiting the penetration of Android,
    whereas the Nexus One makes the platform available to anyone.

    Google's success or failure in this market should be judged not
    on the sales and/or success of the Nexus One, but rather the
    adoption of their platform. In that sense, you'd be hard pressed
    to convince me that Android is a failure without a future. Most
    analysts predict Android will surpass IPhone market share in a
    few years time, and RIM's sometime after that.

  •  
    9

    ErikSherman

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    mooks78, had Chrome been done by a small company, it would have been a success. Given the resources that Google has at its disposal, it's not. Google Apps still has a tiny number of paid users, though certainly more than in the past. Unpaid users - tens of millions. However, unpaid doesn't pay the rent.

    As for "quick" revenue, Google's been around for ten years. Plenty of time for some serious non-quick revenue.

    Xbox and Bing each does far more revenue per year (well over a billion) than all of Google's non-ad ventures taken together.

    I'm quite aware why Google wants Android spread about. I'm also aware that the Nexus One might have been the telecom equivalent of a concept car. But in that case, treat it as such and don't go to customers with all the problems that crept up. If a showcase, then do that and don't compete at all with vendors. If competing, then really do it. Don't sit in the middle.

    Also, I haven't said that Android is a failure. I said that Google sucks at marketing. The same used to be true of IBM, and it was worth far more at the time than Google is now. IBM overcame its poor marketing with a highly experienced enterprise sales force. However, Google is structured to wait for people to come to it. That seems a little odd given the speed of Internet-based business.

  •  
    10

    mooks78

    03/24/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Ten years, and they've gone from a nobody to the seventh
    most recognized brand in the world with 23 billion in revenue and
    a stranglehold in online advertising. Microsoft and Apple, by
    contrast, have had a nearly 25 year head start. They're
    starting to diversify, but it's ridiculous how quickly products and
    services are deemed failures, considering they are early in their
    product cycles.

    In regards to Chrome, once again, it is the only browser gaining
    market share, while every other browser is losing market share.
    If you think that's a failure, then what does that say about
    Microsoft and Apple, considering the resources they have at
    their disposal? Comparatively, it is outperforming its rivals and
    continues on an upward trend.

    Microsoft's Xbox and Bing may be generating billions in revenue,
    but for every dollar in revenue they've made, they've cost
    billions more in expenses. Thus far, neither has proven to be a
    positive contribution to Microsoft's bottom line. It remains to be
    seen if Bing will ever make meaningful gains in market share at
    the expense of Google, whereas to date, it's been mostly at the
    expense of Yahoo. They've spent billions on marketing and
    branding, and yet the "decision engine" has failed to even take a
    percent of market share at Google's expense. I believe they
    lost almost half a billion dollars in the last quarter of '09 alone.
    Do you categorize that as saavy marketing?

    Google is taking the same long term strategic view with its
    investments in products like Google Apps, Google Chrome, and
    Google Android. The former is specifically a direct attack on
    Microsoft. You can complain about the lack of revenues, but
    what's more important to Google is how they believe this
    product is positioned to really screw over Microsoft in the not so
    distant future.

    Yes, you can cite all the users who generate little or no income
    for Google, but you fail to mention the fact that many of those
    customers used to pay tens of thousands of dollars to
    Microsoft. By ditching MS Exchange, MS Office, and in time
    Windows, you're striking Microsoft where they are most
    vulnerable, as those products account for over 80% of their
    revenue. We're talking about 33 billion in revenue - and even if
    Google doesn't make a penny, it's a disruptive service that can
    really stick it to their chief rival. It's the Art of War Sun Tsu
    style, not a service they're counting on to generate significant
    revenue in the near term. I don't really get why people can't
    see that.

    Back to the Nexus One, I don't understand why you say if you're
    going to compete, go all out. In this case, they don't want to
    because of the sensitivity of their partnerships. The Motorola
    Droid most recently outsold the IPhone, and Android doubled its
    market share in the last quarter while the IPhone saw a decline.
    Considering that Apple completely dominated the music player
    marketplace with the IPod, I'd say that Google has done a good
    job ensuring the growth of Android while stifling a strong rival in
    the process.

  •  
    11

    jlo0312

    03/25/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Eric,

    Thanks for the article. I'm a big fan of Google's (despite the fact
    that they're everywhere) and I think that maybe one key point
    of differentiation in Google's marketing efforts would be the
    methods used to promote their free applications, and those same
    efforts (or lack thereof) behind the products they sell.

    Google's track record for selling isn't great; Nexus is a great
    example. It seems to me that Google excels at creating buzz (or
    Buzz) around their "next big platform" or the "newest thing" but
    when it comes to selling, it doesn't seem like they can turn the
    switch to the "feature - benefit" sales model in a way that
    resonates with people who aren't familiar with Google.

    There's a difference between the way people in the technology,
    online, and advertising industries see Google vs. the way my Dad
    does. He doesn't understand Adwords, iGoogle, or comprehend
    the environment in which Google excels.

    He was buying a new phone and looked at the Nexus, Palm,
    iPhone, Android and others, read consumer insights, and
    watched the ads for 6 months before purchase. He bought an
    iPhone.

    Why? Because they were able to "show" him how the iPhone
    would "uncomplicate," his understanding of technology,
    email on his mobile, etc., not make it more difficult.

    He was the CEO of a growing insurance company. He didn't need
    a Blackberry. He didn't need to be "up-to-date" on all the newest
    offerings, or tech-savvy. He simply needed to be given a
    "feature-benefit" analysis. He would then determine which
    product would work the best, provide a good ROI, and keep
    things as simple as possible for his employees.

    I think that Google often thinks that their omnipresence means
    that everyone understands, which is far from the truth. With an
    aging population, it's a lesson that they need to learn.

  •  
    12

    ErikSherman

    03/25/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    jlo0312, your point is excellent and is part of what I meant by arrogance. There's the built-in assumption that everyone should come to Google and approach the world its way. However, the first rule of marketing is that you focus on what customers want and tailor your communication to their language. Ad sales have worked for them because it's a simple concept and people could take care of themselves through automated systems. But once Google has to explain the benefits, it falls ito a ditch. Also, notice that even as Google creates buzz, all that tends to be pre-release. Once the product comes out and details are there, things flop, like with Wave. Having tried Wave, I think it's innovative. But you have to wrestle to grasp the implications, and marketing should make that easier.

  •  
    13

    SuperAtlas

    03/31/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Google should contact Charles Atlas, Ltd. and do something with them. Maybe it would help their marketing! If you are reading this then the way to contact Charles Atlas is to go to their website at www.charlesatlas.com
    Enough said!

  •  
    14

    garybrands

    03/31/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    Google seems to be fearful that any product marketing may
    take away from the Mother Brand (aka Google). Instead of
    fearful they should be obsessed with making sure that new
    products and extensions help build that brand. Here's a tip for
    starters: Stop inventing unrelated product names and start
    coming up with names that related back to Google for your
    phones, browsers, mains apps, etc... How about GooglePhone.
    Google Earth and Google Maps are good examples. Some
    skeptics may say this is not creative enough. I disagree. It is
    about building a brand strong so that the mktg dollars can
    work harder. For those of you still laughing about he name
    IPad, give it time. The name builds a franchise. Says what the
    product is to the consumer. If after all the product turns out to
    be good, the name will stick and no one will laugh. Well Apple
    will but for other reasons.

  •  
    15

    ErikSherman

    04/01/10 | Report as spam

    RE: Why Google Sucks at Marketing

    garybrands, a good point for the physical phone itself. But I wonder whether Google wanted to draw less attention to itself every time a phone ran Android, so it could eventually slip in all the mobile advertising stuff. Not saying that it's right or wrong - just wondering. Also, even if they made it GoogePhoneOS, or something like that, they're still bad at getting messages across, so they'd have more fundamental work to do.

An interesting article that I agree with for the most part. Google as an excellent product innovator usually succeeds where the product is so unique that it will gain adoption (e.g. Adwords, Adsense, Gmail, Google Maps). In other cases, where the uniqueness is less defined, they often don't show the Marketing skills to get to higher levels of adoption (e.g. Sidewiki, Dodgeball, Buzz, Wave, DMarc).

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