Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

February 5, 2020

Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google’s Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

February 5, 2020 | By | No Comments

Google's Got Troubles: Screenshot of Google "Loretta" AdLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273) – Headlines and Show Notes

Google brought down the house with it's "Loretta" ad at the big game this weekend. But that ad showed the benefits and downsides of the tech giant's power — and why Google’s got troubles ahead of it. This week's Thinks Out Loud takes a look at why Google's strength may be more brittle than you think — and what you can do to get more business regardless of the challenges Google may face in the future.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links – Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 32s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript — Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

Well, hello again everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 273 of the big show and thank you so much for tuning in, I very, very much appreciate it. I think we have a really, really cool show for you this week.

It was the big football game the other day, just this past week, you know, the superb owl. I don't know if I'm allowed to say the name, because of trademark reasons and I don't want to get sued. But you know the game I'm talking about. And as I've done for, oh my gosh, probably eight years, nine years, maybe a little bit longer I participated in what gets referred to as either #BrandBowl or the #AdBowl where various marketing folks, you know, live-tweet the game and talk about the ads and their opinions of them. These are all professional marketing folks, many with really, really impressive credentials who have a long, long experience in branding and the advertising and the like. And it's this really cool conversation about the quality of the ads and whether or not they're any good, right? Whether or not these ads are doing the job that they should be doing.

Google's Super Bowl Ad — and What it Tells Us About the Tech Giant

And by far, the most polarizing ad of this year's Super Bowl was one from Google. And it featured an elderly man having Google remember things for him. You know, he kept asking Google to remind him about things his late wife, Loretta, liked and it was a charming spot. I mean, from a pure marketing perspective, from a pure advertising perspective, from a pure storytelling perspective, it was a really, really good ad. And yet the reaction from the folks on Twitter ran the gamut from, "Oh my God, that was amazing," to "Oh my God. Google is monster."

And Joel Feder, and I hope I'm pronouncing his name correctly on Twitter, I will link to his Twitter account on the show notes and to his tweet really seemed to capture the moment when he said, "By the way, that Google ad was great. But it proved why Google is terrifying #PrivacyMatters." Now, Joel is the interactive content manager for Internet Brands Automotive. He's got about 8,700 followers and a blue checkmark by his name. I retweeted Joel's post with the comment, "He's not wrong." And the numbers were really extraordinary. My tweet was seen over 10,000 times with roughly 50 engagements, which is only a 0.5% engagement rate, but that's, you know, pretty decent for most typical tweets that I see on my account.

You know, by contrast, I get typically about 2,000 impressions a day. And while my annual AdBowl/BrandBowl live-tweeting of the Super Bowl skews the averages a fair bit, that single tweet accounted for roughly 12% of all of my views for the entire day of Sunday.

And to point out, I have roughly 6,100 followers and no blue checkmark by my name. So what's going on here? Why did this one tweet strike such a nerve? Why did this one ad strike such a nerve? And I think it's really critical to examine what's going on here.

What Brand Ads Should Do — Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

Another really popular tweet of mine during the BrandBowl and a great discussion that we were having overall was about how and I'm paraphrasing what I'd said, but you know, I said the best ads tonight of which there have been far too few have connected to the benefit/brand very effectively. And I followed that up by saying, "the point isn't for the ad to get folks talking. It's to get them talking about the benefits you provide."

And that's really the key of what's going on here. I think Google's display of their abilities is amazing. It's also terrifying because of the volume of data they have about us every day in our lives. You know, they're amazing. Their tech is spectacular, but we've got to recognize the amount of data they have about us and our customers, and the like is pretty spooky sometimes.

You know, in the past I referred to Google as the company that scares your industry's 800 pound gorillas. And this ad shows why they have the incredible ability to know unbelievably personal details. I mean, again, this was a really moving commercial. This is an elderly man. He happens to be the grandfather of a Google employee, who's asking Google to show him pictures of his late wife and remind him of so many of the things he loved about her. So that's incredibly cool. It's also incredibly intimate details about a person's life.

Now, I've talked about you know, all year long last year, you know, I asked "in digital is Google your enemy" and "how worried are you about Google next year" and how "gatekeepers are gonna gate," including Google in that, and why "Google was the hotel marketing and distribution trend you care about most in 2019" and "why Google keeps winning and how you can win too," and also advising people to "stop outsourcing your sales and marketing to gatekeepers like Google." And I will link to all of those in the show notes, but it's staggering the volumes of data that they have.

Google's Brittle Strength — Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

Now, the flip side is I'm beginning to question whether or not we've hit "peak Google." You know, one of the things I like to do on this podcast is I like to talk about here's a trend, or here's a topic you should be thinking about you know, here's why it matters and here's what you can do about it. And in those podcast episodes I just discussed, I have a number of techniques for things you can do to deal with them, including a really good one from a few years back that said, "how to compete with Amazon and Expedia and Google and dot, dot, dot." That's episode 221. And again, I will link to all these in the show notes.

But I also think you should have a little bit of patience because Google isn't foolproof. Now, the most obvious evidence is that Google put out their earnings report just a couple of days ago, just yesterday actually. And they got hammered. They had a really terrible end of the year, a really terrible quarter. A and a lot of it has to do with the fact that 84% of their revenue comes from ads with most of that, another 84% as it happens, coming from Google and YouTube alone.

Google Breaks Out YouTube Revenue

You know, they broke out YouTube revenues for the first time, and they (YouTube) did $15 billion in ad revenue last year, which is amazing. But it was a little bit of "look over here," away from the fact that they missed their overall earnings target for the quarter by $800 million. Now, this is a company that does, you know, billions and billions of dollars per quarter, you know, $25-$30 billion a quarter. So $800 million is not a huge percentage. But it's also $800 million, right? It's not a trivial number. So that's really a challenge for them. And the reason is, as my friend Mike Moran says, they're a one product company. They have ads and they have nothing else.

Now, to be fair, that's a good problem to have. It's like having a huge income tax bill, right? You can't have a big income tax bill if you don't have a lot of income. They, you know, only have one product, but that product is making them tens of billions of dollars per quarter, and you know, $100 billion a year.

Google's Competition

But the point is that Google is incredibly strong, but it's a brittle strength. They face unbelievable competition from Facebook and Alibaba and Tencent and increasingly Amazon in advertising. They face incredible competition from Apple and Samsung and maybe Huwei in mobile. They face incredible competition from Netflix and Amazon and Tencent in video. And so on. You know, they've really struggled to figure out how to grow their business in new and interesting ways, and that could be a sign of what's going to hurt them in the long run.

It's also why you want to diversify, like I've talked about in "how you compete…". Because it also underscores the fact that they increasingly have to find ways to grow, to monetize the traffic that they receive. And if they can't find ways to do it, they're just going to have to raise prices to advertisers. And I'd bet that includes most of us. You know, it certainly includes me and my clients. I bet it includes you too.

I don't think Google's going to go out of business in 2020 or 2021 or 2022 or anything else. You know, if for no other reason, even if they completely, completely do a horrible job for the next few years, they're sitting on over a hundred billion dollars in cash. Inertia is a really powerful thing when you've got that kind of money. And you're not going to go out of business or get knocked off your throne too quickly when you're sitting on a pile of cash that large. And all of that ignores any regulatory threat that they may face, whether it's in the EU or California or the United States. Probably in 2021 once we get the U.S. Presidential election behind us. So they have incredible competitive challenges and they probably have some pretty significant regulatory challenges ahead of them.

If you were to ask me would I rather be Google than not be Google, I would absolutely choose being Google every day of the week and twice on Sundays. They're not in a horrible position by any stretch.

But they also face more competitive threats than they ever had. They're struggling to grow more than they ever have. They have failed repeatedly to introduce new products that can diversify the way that they make money, and as a result, they're looking to hoover up more data and raise prices to advertisers so that they can continue to grow. So they're going to remain the beast that scares your industry's 800 pound gorillas for the foreseeable future.

But what you want to do is start to look at ways that you can be less dependent upon them so that you can start looking for other ways to drive traffic and revenue to your business. So if Google should raise their rates or raise their prices, it doesn't come back to bite you. And so that you're better positioned that if they should stumble or if regulators should come in and make them change the way they're doing things, you're not so dependent upon them that they sneeze and you catch a cold.

Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273): Conclusion

So my big advice for the moment is kind of wait and see, but also look to find other ways to drive revenue and drive traffic for your business. Because as we saw with the Loretta ad, Google's very powerful and very scary. And to me there's nothing more scary than being dependent on one company who's that powerful in your world, especially if you depend upon them for a significant chunk of your business.

Show Closing — Hey Loretta, Remind Me That Google's Got Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 273)

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 273. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to you every single week. You can also subscribe to Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those.

And while you're there, I'd really appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us. It helps them understand what the show is all about and it makes a huge difference for the podcast overall.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. And you can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

I'd also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com. Again, that's solosegment.com.

With that. I want to say thanks so much again for tuning in. I really appreciate you listening. I know I say this every week, but I would not do this show without you, so it means so much to me to have you listen every single week. I hope you have a great rest of your week. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead and I look forward to speaking with you again on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well be safe and as ever take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

December 11, 2019

The Lessons You Should Learn from Expedia’s Recent Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 268)

December 11, 2019 | By | No Comments

What do Expedia's recent troubles mean for your business? Screenshot of Expedia.com home pageLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


The Lessons You Should Learn from Expedia’s Recent Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 268) — Headlines and Show Notes

Literally days after our episode calling out the dangers of Google forcing your company to become a "hidden intermediary" — and using Expedia’s recent troubles as one example of where things are going terribly wrong — Expedia fired CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerell. The reason? Well, apart from a "disagreement over strategy," the real issue is that the company simply doesn't have a plan for dealing with Google's rising dominance. And, as stated, that's something you want to keep from happening to your brand.

How can you do that? How can you avoid Google taking over your share of the market? How can you compete with the search giant to win customers and profits? Tim Peter & Associates' president Tim Peter has a few ideas for you on the latest episode of Thinks Out Loud.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — The Lessons You Should Learn from Expedia's Recent Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 268)

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 52s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript — The Lessons You Should Learn from Expedia's Recent Troubles (Thinks Out Loud Episode 268)

Well, hello again, everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 268 of the big show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. We have a crazy show today. I did an episode last week that talked about the biggest risk to your business is becoming a hidden intermediary, and I really used what's going on with Expedia lately to illustrate the problem of becoming hidden intermediary — how Google, how Amazon, how Facebook, how Apple, you know how the big tech giants are really threatening companies that don't provide a direct value-add to their customers. And you know, one of the things that drove this was that Expedia reported really, really crappy earnings in Q3.

And I talked a little about the fact that, you know, they needed to sort this out and they probably would, well, no sooner did I publish the episode. Then the very next day Expedia fired Mark Okerstrom, the CEO, and Alan Pickerell, who was the CFO. Like out. Gone. Hit the bricks.

Phocuswire who covered the story brilliantly. I'm going to link to a lot of focus wire stuff here because they're really great at this. They do a wonderful job, but I will say, I thought the framing of their headline was kind of funny because it's “Expedia group CEO Mark Okerstrom out amid board disagreement over strategy.” I think the biggest disagreement that the board had was that, you know, Okerstrom and Pickerell thought they were the right people to lead that strategy. And the board, you know, disagreed.

So I'm, not that I was in the room, but I'm pretty sure the biggest disagreement was, you know, "are these, in fact, the people who can fix this?" Now I want to point out, I tweeted on December 3rd, another story about this that was also from Phocuswire because at the Phocuswright Conference, Mark Okerstrom talked about the challenges that we're having with search, and I tweeted — and this is important to those of you who are listening, who are not in the travel industry — I said, “don't let Expedia fool you. This isn't just about travel. Google is coming for a lot of folks.”

I also tweeted on December 3rd, you know, a link to an article from the Motley Fool that said, “why Expedia blamed Google for its earnings debacle.” And I said, because "Google is a huge problem for Expedia. That's why, and they may be coming for your business next."

This is a thing I've talked about a ton when it comes to travel. Google is the dominant player in organic paid search, organic search, paid search, and a thing called metasearch, which if you're outside of travel, don't worry about it. Well actually, let me rephrase that. If you're outside of travel, you don't need to know precisely what metasearch is, but you should worry about it because it is a canary in a coal mine. And I'm going to come back to that canary in a coal mine in just a second. This is a thing that I've been talking about since at least 2014 when I referred to the big myth about hotel metasearch. Which you know, the nice thing about predicting things years in advance is you only need to be right once. 😉

But there was another Phocuswire article from November 14th where they talked about Skyscanner becoming a search company, pivoting from their original model of being a metasearch engine and instead becoming a marketplace with bookings. Functionally, they're getting out of the business of aggregating search results, right? They're no longer going to be a search engine primarily, and instead they're going to sell travel directly, which by the way, is exactly the problem that, you know, Expedia and Booking.com and the like and TripAdvisor, who I all talked about last week, seemed to be having.

Now remember the canary in the coal mine that I talked about a moment ago? Well, Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya was speaking at the Phocuswright Conference a couple of weeks ago, by the way, that is run by the same people who run Phocuswire, and I'm going to quote pretty extensively here from a a CNBC review of this. So I'm quoting from the CNBC article. It says, quote

Speaking at The Phocuswright Conference this week, Palihapitiya said that while he “loves” Google and its stock as an investor, he warned that time is running out for companies who have become reliant on it. “The longer it takes for Google to find a second act, the more you’re f—-d,” he said about those companies, adding that investor patience will wane. “If you are in the business of being a parasite on top of Google, your medium-term and long-term prospects are terrible; you’re an impaired company, you don’t know it,” he added. The only way to win, he argued, is to offer unique value; many companies have done the opposite, becoming more like their competitors and relying on Google to drive volume. That’s a recipe for disaster. “This is accurate,” tweeted fellow venture capitalist Bill Gurley, of Benchmark, Thursday evening.

Palihapitiya pointed to the travel industry, calling Google’s travel efforts a “canary in a coal mine” and citing both Expedia and TripAdvisor. “At the core of it is the decision that they will capture the overwhelming majority of profit in the travel sector,” he said about Google.

He's not the only one saying it either. Ben Thompson on Stratechery a couple of weeks back now, on November 12th, actually right after Expedia's earnings call, referred to "the Google Squeeze" and the challenges that Expedia and people like TripAdvisor and Booking.com will have in competing as you go forward.

This is a huge deal, and it's not about travel. This is what Google's doing in a number of markets. Look at what's happening with online retail. Look at what's happening with Google Shopping. Look at what's happening with Google News. They aggregate demand to use Ben Thompson's phrase, and because they have the demand, they control the marketplace for whatever that product or service is.

And this is a huge issue for all kinds of companies. Mark Oak Ostrom got fired because of this, by the way, to point out how rare this is. He was named CEO of the company two years ago. Less than two years ago. Find me another example of a CEO of a public company that by the way, is doing basically okay, right there.

Their revenues were up 9% year on year. Their costs were up dramatically more, but find me a CEO who gets booted after two years. And the reason he got booted was because the board didn't believe that he had a good plan for dealing with the fact that Google's going to come along and you know, eat their lunch or drink their milkshake, or you was whatever your favorite, you know, analogy is basically the board said, mr , mr Pickerell, we understand what you say you're going to do and we think it's not going to work.

Now. Last week on the show, I laid out a three point framework for how you can succeed and make sure what just happened to Okerstrom and Pickerell doesn't happen to you. I said, you must differentiate. You must become a destination and you must diversify. You must get your traffic and your revenue from more than just one source.

A lot. Don't get all your business from Google. In fact, I had a podcast, a podcast a weeks ago where I said, stop outsourcing your sales and marketing to gatekeepers like Google at a minimum. Don't outsource a hundred percent of it to those folks, but there's one more point that I want to add to that framework, and I hinted at it last week, but I want to get a little more in detail about it this week, which is, I said, you have to differentiate, you have to become a destination.

You have to diversify. And you have to deliver. There was a fascinating article that on marketing charts that said, uh, uh, here's what B2B content marketers are prioritizing in 2020 and near the very top, they had increased conversions and near the very bottom they had no the customer better, and I thought that was insanity.

Because I think the first of those follows from the last of those. You don't increase your conversion without knowing your customer better. One leads to the other, and we see this all the time when I've talked about customer experiences queen, this is what I'm talking about. Steffan Berelowitz had another great example, a guy from a company called Travel Tripper that said, consumers want Amazon to be a travel booking site.

Why?

Because they really like the experience that they have on Amazon. I talked about this actually two weeks ago with Amazon Go, instant gratification, and the boring future of business customers expect. That the experience will become invisible. It will become so seamless that they don't even notice it.

And that's kind of what Amazon has done with Amazon. Go and now travel. Customers say, why can't they do that for my travel too? That's a huge threat to an Expedia or booking.com and frankly to a Google. And the reason it works is because they're using data to understand the customer and using that understanding to create a deeper, deeper, richer experience.

Uh, there was another fantastic article that was out, uh, Oh, about a week ago from CMS wire about how brands still haven't tapped AI's full promise. Why do I talk about AI? I'm going to talk about customer experience. Because that's how you know your customer better. That's how you use the data to inform your decisions.

It's not that AI is going to tell you, here's exactly how you make the customer experience better. It's going to tell you, here are the pain points and here's what we understand about sentiment analysis. When people talk about our brand and our business, and here's where we see patterns emerge.

That co that you know. Uh, reflect challenges people have when they interact with a product or a service. And so you need to do that to understand what's going on and understand your customer better so that you can deliver a greater customer experience. And so that you can differentiate your product or service from those of your competition, especially the competitors who are the big guys like Google and Amazon and Facebook.

And that's how you can become a destination. And it's how you can diversify the marketing and sales channels from which you get your business. Because at a minimum, your destination, your own web presence becomes one of the places people want to go.

So you must differentiate. You must become a destination. You must diversify. And you must deliver. Because if you don't — like Mark Okerstrom and Allen Pickerell — your board or your company CEO or your customers are going to show you a fifth "D" — and that is the door.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/Podcast again, that's TimPeter.com/Podcast just look for episode 268.

While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes to have things out loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those. And while you're there, I'd very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive rating or review. It gives other listeners a great insight into what the show is about and helps them understand whether it's something they'd like to listen to too. It makes us easier for new listeners to find us and when it would mean so much to me

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me, just send an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

As ever, I'd like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud, is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. It means so much to me. I hope you have a great rest of the week, a wonderful weekend ahead, and I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well be safe and as ever take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

November 26, 2019

Giving Thanks (Thinks Out Loud Episode 266)

November 26, 2019 | By | No Comments

Giving thanks: Man standing with arms outstretched in thanksLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


It’s a short week around Thinks Central this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but I wanted to take a moment to think about about I’m thankful for in business and in life. I suspect you’ll find these useful too.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look at what I’m thankful for and why those matter for your business.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Giving Thanks (Thinks Out Loud Episode 266) — Relevant Links:

Mobile

Millennials

Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft

Economy

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 22s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

October 29, 2019

Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too. (Thinks Out Loud Episode 263)

October 29, 2019 | By | No Comments

Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too: Google Search Query improved by artificial intelligence.Google keeps wining in the marketplace. You see this everyday. If you're like most businesses, you rely on Google for 40% to 60% of your traffic or more. They're the beast that scares your industry's 800lb. gorilla. And they keep getting better… and bigger. But they also provide a clear example for how you can win in the cutthroat competitive digital environment you live in every day.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at why Google keeps winning and the playbook they provide so that you can win too.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — Why Google Keeps Winning. And How You Can Win Too. (Thinks Out Loud Episode 263)

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 41s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

September 11, 2019

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258)

September 11, 2019 | By | No Comments

Gatekeepers gonna gate: Locked gate imageLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258) – Headlines and Show Notes

Apple's getting in some trouble for how their App Store restricts access to apps that aren't Apple's. Google's getting in even more trouble with antitrust authorities. And Facebook's not super popular with regulators either, facing scrutiny from a handful of state attorneys general too. We live in a world where it's clear that gatekeepers gonna gate. But is antitrust regulation the right answer? Should Google and Apple and Facebook and Amazon have to reveal all the details of how they do what they do?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look both at the reality that gatekeepers gonna gate and asks a series of questions about what you should expect of these tech giants, both as a marketer and as a consumer.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links:

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 18m 58s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258) Transcript

Well. Hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. Today is Tuesday, September 10th, 2019. This is episode 258 of the big show. And as ever, I very much appreciate you tuning in. It's funny the name of this show is Thinks Out Loud. Today that title is probably more spot on than most.

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Introduction

The reason for that is because I have said for some time that gatekeeper's gonna gate. It's just the way they behave. It's the world in which they live. There are two new stories this week that got my attention around what gatekeeper's gonna gate might look like as we go forward through the rest of this year and into 2020.

The first was a story from the New York Times that noted Apple's apps ranked first, and I'm quoting, "For at least 700 search terms in the app store. Some searches produced as many as 14 Apple apps before showing results from rivals though," and the article continues, "Though competitors could pay Apple to place ads above the Apple results." I mean, that last line is a killer. If we're saying gatekeeper is going to gate, that pretty much sums it up right there.

They note in the article that searches for podcasts don't turn up Stitcher radio, which I talk about here all the time on the show, very popular podcatcher. They note that searches for music doesn't turn up Spotify. That's crazy. So clearly, this is a gatekeeper who's gonna gate and they're gating pretty hard.

The other article, of course, is that Google has been hit with an antitrust investigation from essentially every state's attorney general in the United States. Facebook has been invited to that party by another half dozen or so attorneys general. Which clearly that's a huge, huge step in terms of trying to reshape the marketplace.

Now, the reason that I think these are both interesting is because they're going to shape the landscape of what gatekeepers and you as a user of those gatekeepers, you as a marketer who tries to get your customers, who tries to reach customers using these folks, that's going to shape the landscape of the world you live in for the next couple of years. Now what's really interesting about this is the New York Times stated, this is from the New York Times article about Apple and the app store. I'm quoting this. It says, "Apple and other tech giants like Facebook and Google will not explain in detail how such algorithms work even when they blame the algorithms for problems."

Now I want to be really fair. I actually agree with the gatekeepers on this one. I have agreed with this approach forever. There are a couple of good reasons why gatekeepers should not make this information public.

The first is we've all seen how open access allows for trolls and allows for trouble. Look at 8chan or some of the more problematic boards on Reddit, or the rise of, well essentially Nazis on Twitter. There are just all whole host of horrible people out there who look for opportunities to pee in the public pool every chance they get. I've said many times before, quoting the French philosopher Paul DeLillo, "When you build the ship, you build the shipwreck."

Should Google's algorithm or Apple's be fully public? I think that's just going to make it easier for the trolls and troublemakers to game the system. There's a really great book by Emerson Brooking and Peter Singer called LikeWar. It's spelled #LikeWar, where Singer and Brooking say that once, every village had an idiot. It took the internet to bring them all together. And I'd add the same is true for every villages resident troll too.

Trolls used to exclusively live under bridges. Now, thanks to the internet, they coordinate their harassment and their hurt on a daily basis using digital to share tips on how to be the most effective and efficient trolls they possibly can be in their attacks. They have all the incentive in the world to keep doing it, to get better at that. Do we really think it's a good idea to provide them access to understand how to do it better? I don't. So clearly I'm not a fan of making the algorithm public for that reason alone.

I also, even in Google's case, more or less agree with their argument about the importance of keeping the algorithm private as a trade secret. I'm a capitalist. I'm a business guy. I think there's a lot of merit in saying there are things that companies are allowed to keep private. I do think the public good outweighs that sometimes and I will come to that, but Google in my experience is uniquely positioned both as a company that dominates the market place and also as one that could lose it all tomorrow.

Google's Power is Brittle: Is That Always True for Gatekeepers?

I've mentioned before here on the show how their power is brittle because switching costs for consumers are so low. Consumers tomorrow could start searching on Bing or DuckDuckGo in an instant. And it would significantly hurt Google's revenues right now. Last quarter, the company made about 85% of its revenues from paid clicks on advertising. Believe me, they'd notice if a large number of folks started searching somewhere else. Let's be fair about this, even switching from an Android device to an iPhone is relatively trivial, if we think about the history of switching costs.

Now, as for the switching costs argument for Apple and Amazon, I'd say somewhat similar dynamics apply. Though to be fair, you have to think that Amazon isn't a switching cost problem for customers. It's really a switching cost problem for sellers. That dynamic, the differences between Facebook and Google and Apple and Amazon, when we get into these details, underscores why actually it's tougher to look at these tech giants holistically than it might seem at first glance.

As an example of the contrasts, Facebook absolutely plays a huge role in digital media. And while it's free for customers to use, the switching costs for Facebook's users are for all practical purposes, infinite due to its network effects. You can't leave Facebook until and unless all the other people you want to connect with do too. The same is true for them in reverse. All your friends and family and fans and followers would all have to agree to leave at the same time and choose to go to the same place to really break free of Facebook's influence.

Now call me crazy, that seems pretty unlikely. Whereas Google and Amazon and Apple, that same dynamic doesn't exist. But all that said, I think it's safe to say that we should all agree that we don't want trolls to have better understanding of the algorithm, and that varying market dynamics might play a role in determining varying approaches to the differing players here.

"Do Nothing" Isn't a Good Answer Given that Gatekeepers Gonna Gate

Now, all that said, I also don't believe that the right answer is to do nothing. Google's power, no matter how brittle it may be, also is enormous. The same is true for Facebook and Amazon and Apple. They have within their respective spheres of influence, tremendous power over the marketplace. In most cases, it's safe to sow that they exercise either monopoly or monopsony power over some piece of the value chain.

So for me, the questions start to become:

  • What markets do they each actually have power in?
  • Is their power monopoly power, monopsony power — meaning they're the only place you can sell to, not the only place you can buy from — or is it some combination? Is it both monopoly and monopsony power? And I think in Google's case you can argue they definitely have some monopoly power and some monopsony power.
    • By the way, this is straight out of the legal framework, I didn't make these up.
  • But the next question is, are they unduly leveraging that power to hurt competition or consumers or again, both?
  • And assuming the answers to those first three questions lead in this direction, how do you best remedy the situation?

Now it's clear, it's apparent given that 50 states's attorneys general think it's worth investigating Google for antitrust, that at least, when it comes to Google, the answers to some of those questions are problematic. At least again, a half a dozen states attorneys general agree that the same is true for Facebook. So there's something there that we need to be paying attention to. I don't think we need states attorneys general tell us this. I think we see it both as consumers and as marketers every day.

Now in the book Information Rules, which I cite regularly here on the show, economist, Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian argue that these dominant players are a natural consequence of digital. I think they're right. Hell, I think the history of the last two decades has proven their point. By the way, I always have to point out that Hal Varian who wrote that book is now the chief economist for Google. So he didn't just put the writing on the wall. He read it and said, "I know where I want to be." But I think we need to look at this and say, "Okay, does this mean we can't compete?" And I'd say the answer's no. Because in that same book we do see you can be a differentiated player. And again, we see example after example where people pull that off or people accomplish that.

So I think we need to think about this in terms of are we competing effectively? The right answer for almost everybody who's going to listen to this show is not to compete by trying to be the dominant player in an information space. It's to be a differentiated player. It's to own your niche and own your customer more directly. It's, as I talked about last week, not to outsource your sales and marketing to any one of these folks. We are all better off when there is a Google and an Apple and an Amazon and a Facebook and whatever else comes down the pipe to help us ensure that no one of them becomes the single dominant player.

I think we have to start asking very serious questions about what role do we want government to play in shaping these remedies. What is an appropriate remedy. And is an inappropriate remedy throwing open the commons to everybody? Because as we've seen with comment boards and we've seen with 4chan and 8chan and things like that, I don't think that's really what we want. I don't think we really want to turn all the power over to the trolls because they have every incentive to take it and ruin it for everybody.

We also have to agree that that can't be the reason just because there might be a shipwreck is no reason to not invent a ship. Right? I mean we've got to be able to turn that phrase around. The reality is we need to take control of the commons in a way that makes sense for us. We need to come up with some basis for agreeing on where it's appropriate to say, "Okay, somebody got too much power and that's making it problematic for everybody." But also they have to be free to make use of their power where it's appropriate to to create a better space there too, and to compete commercially. Because maybe someday we'd like to be those folks.

I opened by saying, "This one's going to be something of a thinks out loud." I don't know that I know the answers. But I do think the right first step in coming up with the right answers is asking the question. And the questions are where do we want this to go? What kind of world do we want to live in? And how do we want to shape the environment in which we compete in a way that's better for everybody? Because if we get that right, all the rest of this takes care of itself.

I'd love to hear your point of view on this. I've mentioned every week that you can email me at podcast@timpeter.com. Again podcast@timpeter.com.

You can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/TimePeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter. You can find me on my website and send a contact message, whatever you prefer. But I'd love to hear from you about what you think the right thing is here, and how it is that we make sure we're inventing the ship as well as a shipwreck, and making sure that if gatekeepers going to gate we understand where those walls are and where those gates are and which ones we're comfortable with. Because it may be true that gatekeepers are going to gate, but I think it's fair to say that we get a voice and a vote in terms of where those gates can be, and which tolls we're willing to pay and when it is that it's appropriate to actually break those gates wide open.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time. But I want to thank you again so much for tuning in. I genuinely do appreciate it. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 258. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single episode.

You can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher radio or the Google play music store or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for "Tim Peter Thinks," "Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud" or "Thinks Out Loud"; we should show up for any of those. While you're there, I'd very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive rating or review. It's so helpful. Makes it easier for others to find us.

As mentioned, you can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterassociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. Or of course, you can email me by sending an email to Podcast@TimPeter.com.

I'd also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by Solo Segment. Solo Segment focuses on AI driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate it. I hope you have a great rest of the week, a wonderful weekend, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, as ever, I want to remind you to please be well, be safe and take care everybody.