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Google, Time To Re-take Marketing 101

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Google rose to dominance via the back alleys of word of mouth, catching giants like Yahoo and Microsoft completely off guard with geek credibility that eventually spilled over into the mainstream. But now that Google is playing with the big boys, it may be time to act like one and actually promote its own services.

The latest lesson in Marketing 101 came courtesy of MySpace, when the social networking juggernaut chose eBay for its e-commerce partner instead of Google Base.

It might because…NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT GOOGLE BASE EXCEPT PEOPLE THAT HANG ON GOOGLE’S EVERY MOVE. And that is just a fraction of the Web population.

For years, Google has put its products quietly into beta and let the Google geeks out there play with them for a while before letting them slip quietly into oblivion. Gmail’s out of beta and I’ve had to tell a dozen people about it. Does anybody really know Google has a special blog search engine? It may be time Google spend some of that $11 billion in cash on a little advertising instead of relying on the fanboys out there to do their promotions for free.

MySpace chose eBay because everybody knows Google is a search company, and that’s pretty much it as far as anybody can tell. We can recall last summer if we wish, when Marissa Mayer told us the company expected 80 percent of its products to fail, making that 20 percent time Google’s employees spend on products virtually meaningless.

Or, more recently, we can recall how cool the thought of Yahoo-ized Google homepage was, bringing all the best products to light for 2/3 of the search population, even at the risk of angering the geek-based preference for clean interfaces, which Google has grown beyond anyway.

Over at Hitwise, LeeAnn Prescott presents an analysis of how Google Base and Checkout are faring against their intended rivals, eBay and PayPal. As of last week, visits to eBay were 844 times greater than visits to Google Base. Since July, Google Base traffic has declined by 18 percent, compared to 1.3 percent increase at eBay, which already rules the e-commerce market anyway.

In contrast, PayPal only beats Checkout, which launched just before Christmas Season 2006, 71 to 1 in terms of market share, a spike of 362 percent for Checkout. "Clearly Google Checkout has been doing better than Google Base, thanks to aggressive promotions, which is not something that Google typically does," writes Prescott at the Hitwise blog.

I’ve been covering this industry for two years. Each and every time Google launches a new product, or is just rumored among the faithful to be thinking about launching a new product (think back to the Google OS), bloggers start buzzing about the latest [insert rival product here] killer. And, like Marissa Mayer said, 80 percent of the time the product goes nowhere.

That’s because the products that do well, are linked to on the Google search homepage, where everybody was going anyway. This is all very puzzling because, if you look at Google’s job page, they appear to have openings for product marketing managers.

And surely some of the fine folks who hold these positions remember Marketing 101 and, unless they crammed for that first exam like all freshmen are wont to do, knew that the first lesson is: if nobody knows you have something, you can’t sell it.

So, IMHO, Google should just go back to focusing on search and stop wasting their time on peripheral products — and the time of their engineers who make something cool only to see slip into oblivion.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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Google, Time To Re-take Marketing 101
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