Being St. Patrick's Day today, Google has a customized logo and link to relevant results on its home page. I wondered if anyone has tested buying AdWords for the holiday keyword when Google runs those special links. Often (like today), there seem to be few advertisers buying those terms, thus an opportunity to put your brand in front of a lot of people (I say that because I always click on the logo to see the results). Has anyone tried this? St. Patrick's Day might be a tough one to make the ad relevant, but it seems like it would work for others...
Not that Google needs another boost to its employer brand - it's already the most desirable place to work in the country - but Fortune magazine has also named it the 2007 best company to work for. What I always find interesting is how many of the employment positives regarding Google are about the Googleplex itself, the facility brand. These showcases talk about the Google cafeterias, snack rooms, pools, gym, beach volleyball court, laundry room and other amenities. Not too much is said about the work itself, although you do always hear about the 20 percent rule, which allows engineers to spend that portion of their time on new ideas and personal projects, and has delivered Google products such as Gmail.
But when you compare Google's profile in Fortune to the others, you hear more about great salaries, company loyalty, flexible work hours, family-friendly benefits, career mentors, diversity and other workplace elements than the physical workplace itself. It goes to show how a company's facility brand can impact its employer brand, and help make it a great place to work.
If you use Google Alerts to monitor your brands, clients or competitors, you probably noticed that they now include blogs along with news and the Web. You can explicitly choose to receive alerts from blogs that match your search criteria, or choose the comprehensive option that includes blogs, news, groups and the Web. I found out about the addition because Google converted the previous "news and Web" alert type to comprehensive as part of the upgrade, and my in-box was flooded with results from blogs. Despite the extra e-mails (I'll likely dial some of my alerts down to once per day to manage that), the upgrade has really improved Google Alerts as a brand-monitoring tool.
Found this video about a year ago and thought I should finally share it. It's one of the best recruitment videos that I've seen and the number one result on Google for the search "recruitment video" - no surprise there. Anyone have a better example?
Google says, "You can make money without doing evil," but when I look at AdSense for Domains, I'm not so sure. The same goes for Yahoo's Search Marketing service, previously known as Overture. Both Google and Yahoo do great things on the Web, but they also quietly do things that seem a little questionable, such as encouraging domain squatting by offering advertising kits to bulk domain name buyers. Neither company actively promotes or links to those offerings (AdSense for Domains is separate from the main AdSense site), but if you look closely at the text-based ads on so-called "holding pages," "landing pages" or "parked domains," they are driven by AdSense and Overture.
I'm finding this to be a problem for a couple reasons. One, in researching domain name purchases for myself and for clients, I'm consistently running into those "parked" domains that have no real content or value themselves. Google and Yahoo are helping those domain squatters make money when there are others out there eager to use those domain names for good. The counter-argument I'm sure is something like, "First-come, first-serve," or "We're not doing anything illegal." True, but they're not really making the Web a better place, either. When I started working on the Web, I thought the domain name squatting problem would improve. Google and Yahoo are actually making it worse, and are also making the squatters rich in the process.
Second, Web users who go to sites like cellphones.com thinking it's a great resource for mobile phones are being misled. Yes, they might not be savvy enough to find Engadget on their own, but companies like Google and Yahoo should be helping, not aiding domain squatters looking to make money off those users' confusion. Domain names have become real estate almost solely because of these programs, which makes me wonder - do the advertisers know their messages are appearing on such holding pages?
I'm not really good at reading annual reports, but looking at Google's financial data says to me that about 99 percent of its revenue in 2004 came from its ad network. I wonder, is anyone looking at what percentage comes from landing pages, squatted and misspelled domain names? Maybe Eliot Spitzer? Oops, maybe not. Again, Google and Yahoo are doing really great things for the Web, but their support for such efforts - and the quiet approach they take in positioning them - both worries and bothers me.
Microsoft seems best known by two of its leaders, geek-wonder Bill Gates and wild-man Steve Ballmer, although blogger Robert Scoble does a great job making the company seem less "evil empire" with customers on the Web. And while Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are certainly well-known, it's others from the Googleplex that represent the company and its products in the field with developers and customers. Two examples - director of consumer Web products Marissa Mayer and software engineer Matt Cutts. Mayer has made the cover of Fast Company and has been profiled in BusinessWeek and other industry magazines, and both she and Cutts visit with Web developers at the Search Engine Strategies and similar conferences. We'll likely never get to talk to Gates or Ballmer (maybe Scoble though), so being able to ask questions and chat with someone who works on the Google algorithm and PageRank (Cutts) is pretty amazing. The two are doing a great job of representing Google and providing us with a look inside the fast-growing company.
I was talking with a co-worker last week and we agreed that Google appears to have the hot employer brand in the technology space, that it's the place software engineers and others in tech aspire to work. This employer reputation seems to be coming at the expense of Microsoft, which apparently haslost more than 100 employees to Google. While Google celebrates its "20 percent time" delivering such products as Google News and AdSense, Microsoft is struggling with the perception of its Longhorn/Vista OS and announced a reorganization. So even though Microsoft and its business lines like Windows and Office are bottom-line successful, Google appears to be winning the talent war.