Google has an Achilles Heal - Will Their Competitors Notice?
Even though Google Revenues continue to soar, the hidden problem that may stifle growth and may even allow Yahoo or MSN to overtake the paid search market in the future lies in two critical phrases: Customer Support, and Customer Training
The problem with this is that it is working quite well for professional internet marketers and search engine marketing companies employed by big corporations, but many small business people who are not web-savvy are by and large left out of the mix. This is unfortunate because this is a huge segment of potential income that is left "up for grabs" and may be scooped up by MSN and Yahoo who are developing simpler, easier systems with better customer support.
All the major search engines recognize this problem, and getting those "offline" advertisers online is a high priority for all of them, but so far there has not been great success. It is a knowledge and training gap, and neither Yahoo, MSN, or Google has so far been able to address it adequately.
Google's recent acquisition of urchin, a web analytics program illustrates the problem Google is trying to solve. Big Companies getting involved in paid search will still continue to drive big revenues, but the new internet is about verticals and niches, and Google simply isn't making the grade in terms of training their customers well enough.
Where do small business customers go after they "churn"? Many of them go back to what they were doing successfully before; email marketing, direct marketing, and call centers according to our study.
The next growth area will be hundreds of thousands of verticals, driven by small businesses exploiting areas and needs that the fortune 500 companies can not fill efficiently. The search engine company that gets the most advertisers on its side will win market share, and winning will require the ability to service everybody, not just the super sophisticated internet super geeks.
However, many private companies not sanctioned by Google, have sprung up in order to try to bridge the gap between the Google Adwords program and the ability to advertise efficiently on Google and achieve a high ROI. One such company is http://adwordstraining.org that offers free video training and free frequently updated information at http://marketingnewsblog.adwordstraining.org
Simple training videos are available on the site, as well as an advertiser self study course to get non-technical people up to speed with Google Adwords advertising.
Between Google's extensive training program of Google Professionals and private training by private companies, this knowledge gap may be bridged, and in the process a whole new industry of Google Adwords Marketing companies may be created, to facilitate the knowledge gap between Google and the advertisers that want to take advantage of the enormous advertising reach afforded by paid search.
But, this might not be enough for Google to keep its lead, as advertisers often follow the path of least resistance in getting their messages out, and they are the ones funding the growth of the search engine industry.
Where those advertisers ultimately go will determine the ultimate victor in the ever growing search engine wars, and the winner is by no means secure at this point.
About the author:
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The date: 29th July 2005. The time: early morning.
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