Chrome versus PPC: What is Google Thinking?

There are two Googles. One is a funky company with the best general search engine, a clean UI and the “Don’t be evil,†ethos. Everybody likes them. Once you work on SEO for a while you get familiar with the other Google: the China-censoring, keyword-bid manipulating corporation that may not be evil, but isn’t necessarily that good.

The Chrome browser seems to represent a clash between the two Googles, especially when you consider that Chrome’s cool stuff seems to kick PPC to the curb. Its Omnibox often gets rid of the need to visit a SERP at all. Since that’s where PPC ads live, it makes you wonder why Google would shoot itself in the foot like this. On the other hand, the Omnibox kicks you over to Google results quite often, which some may see as a decent counterbalance.

However, the implicit improvement path for Chrome is to minimize this as much as possible by making Omnibox search results more relevant and sophisticated. In fact, I’d love to see a UI redesign that exports SERPs right in there, with a toggle (maybe a dial on the right side of the box) that lets me browse to lower ranked results. Once Google implements something like this I’ll never have to visit a SERP again – or look at PPC ads. Score one for good-guy Google – minus a lot of money for Google the ad merchant.

Google can’t decline to further develop the Omnibox into a tool that will make SERPs obsolete because that just gives the competition room to do it themselves. What does that mean for PPC? I can think of two consequences offhand:

New PPC Pricing: The most direct effect is that PPC just gets less valuable. Google will do a funky balancing act between keeping bid prices attractive and making money on them. A drop in demand may also force Google to be a touch more transparent about how the system works.

Demographic Shift: PPC campaigns will be more effective on people who visit SERPs out of habit, long after next-generation browsers make them obsolete. If you’re the kind of guy who still types in Google’s URL despite having a perfectly serviceable Omnibox or Firefox search bar, you’re the target audience for future PPC campaigns.

Is Google a hapless victim of its own innovation? Of course not. All of the above only applies if the company doesn’t have a future advertising model waiting in the wings to fit post-Chrome browsers hand in glove – and I’m pretty sure they do. That’s the exciting thing to wait for.

About the Author: Malcolm Sheppard provides copywriting and strategic SEO services on behalf of GILL Media at http://www.gill-media.com. Read GILL Media’s Internet Marketing Blog for more articles.

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4 Comments

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