EBS Marketing Comments: Has Google Finally Gone Too Far?

Most of the time, we at EBS Marketing, as well as the online marketing community and even the greater public can see the wisdom behind Google’s decisions, even if we don’t always like them. However, and this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, Google make a decision that seems so intrusive that it simply cannot be allowed. They’re fairly apt when it comes to understanding where that line is, but they have stepped over it once or twice in the past. When you think of this, the Google Earth incident, where the search engine wanted to show where people live, immediately comes to mind. That time protests rose up and Google had to moderate its actions. History’s finally repeated itself.

Google may have to moderate its plans after protests have risen up over its latest initiative to feature certain details in its individual reviews in its search results. In an article on the BBC News Website called ‘Protests follow Google ‘endorsed advert’ change’, it’s been revealed that Google is facing a backlash over its latest changes that have seen plans to feature people’s faces and comments concerning products and places into adverts listed in its search rankings.

It is due to start on 11th November; the ‘shared endorsements’ policy covers the comments and “follows” through users Google + profiles. The move is proving unpopular on the social networking site, and one protest movement is seeing people replace their profile picture with that of Google boss Eric Schmidt, so that in these new endorsements, his picture will appear instead of their own. Google has so far not made an explicit statement, either about the policy change or the protests it has already sparked amongst users. However the policy change is being advertised in banners on the main search engine and the company has made it clear that it will be very easy for users to opt out if they so wish. However it has also warned that if people did not want to take part in the project, some of their comments and follows on the social networking site may no longer be visible to people they know.

At EBS Marketing, we can understand why people are reacting this way; people tend to be sensitive about the way their image and words are used. Google, who have been in this game a long time, should know better than to even go there, especially after the way some people reacted to the Google Earth introduction a few years ago. This teaches us all a lesson when it comes to online marketing. There are limits that should not be crossed, no matter the incentive.

At the end of the day, the general public are the consumers, the people who buy the product that the online marketing campaign is promoting. If they don’t like the campaign, that may galvanise them against the product, which of course makes the whole campaign obsolete. Even Google needs to keep its users onside.