Archive for the ‘jeffrey katz’ tag
This morning I read Danny Sullivan’s letter to the FTC about paid inclusion and search engine disclosures. It was prompted by NexTag CEO Jeffrey Katz’s article last week in the Wall Street Journal complaining about Google’s market dominance and alleged abuse of that position….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Interview With Nextag’s Jeff Katz: Google Needs To Be More Transparent, Provide Equal Access & A Level Playing Field
Earlier this morning, Google critic and Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz used an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal to accuse Google of behaving like a monopoly. Google quickly responded with a line-by-line criticism of Katz’s arguments. I had a chance to talk to Katz about his piece a little while ago and while he argued that he wasn’t so much interested in engaging in yet another back-and-forth argument with Google, we obviously did touch upon Google’s reaction to his piece.
Starting our discussion, Katz noted how Google faces “undeniable issues,” especially now that the U.S. government and the European Union are looking into the company’s practices. Nextag, among others, has been subpoenaed by He also said that he wasn’t surprised by Google’s swift reaction given that the company has obviously been preparing to face these issues.
After reading his WSJ piece, one of his arguments continued to confuse me: Google, he said, needs to become more transparent when advertisers get better placement in its organic search results. Katz, it turns out (and some SEO experts agree with him here), argues that by buying lots of ads, big advertisers drive more traffic to their sites. The more traffic your site has, the higher up on the page it will likely appear on Google’s search results pages.
Katz also argues that Google, especially now that it launched its product listing ads in conjunction with Google Shopping, is pushing other results further down the page. While Google argues that it’s making all of its changes for the benefit of its users, Katz argues that users generally only look at the top of a search results page and by highlighting its own products, Google is pushing everything else out of its users’ sight.
The paid placement of these Google Shopping ad units, says Katz, also unfairly excludes Nextag and companies like it from advertising in this space. In his WSJ piece, Katz said that Google “should grant all companies equal access to advertising opportunities regardless of whether they are considered a competitor.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what he meant with that, but after my discussion with him, it’s clear that he feels that Google isn’t providing a level playing field here. The only way Nextag could participate, he said, “is if we changed our business model.” One could, of course, argue that just as these ad unites aren’t useful for musicians, they aren’t meant to be useful for Nextag, either.
If the only way to appear at the top of the search results is to advertise, though, he said, “then let everybody advertise.” “It’s like owning Interstate 5,” Katz said to illustrate this point, “and all the billboards – and then saying you can’t advertise here because you own competing rest stops.”
Katz dismissed the argument that users and advertisers could just move to other search engines. The world of advertising, he said, pretty much belongs to Google. Globally, Bing and other competitors just don’t matter.
Overall, Katz feels that Google (even though he calls them a “great company”) has an obligation to be more transparent and to provide equal access and a level playing field for sites and advertisers. Google, of course, argues that this is exactly what it is doing.
Comparison shopping engine Nextag and its CEO Jeffrey Katz have been at the forefront of accusing Google of being a monopoly and abusing its position to crush smaller competitors. Today, the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece by Katz that accuses Google of not just promoting its own services and products on its search results pages, but also selling out its users because many of “the most prominent results are displayed because companies paid Google for that privilege.” Google, in what’s becoming an increasingly common tactic for the company, just published a detailed (and rather aggressive) response to Katz’s accusations. In it, the company’s senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal argues that “there has never been as much choice online as there is today.”
Google gave Katz an opening for his attack when it launched Google Shopping and its new paid product listing ads last month. These are basically ads that also feature prices and product images and which will appear right underneath the standard AdWords text ads that often adorn the top of your search results pages today. Katz doesn’t specifically mention this new service, but it seems likely that this is what he’s hinting at when he argues that “Google should disclose, clearly and in plain English, when advertisers receive better placement in search results and when a result is a Google-owned property.”
Katz also argues that “it’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us.” Google’s response to this: “We built search to help users, not websites.” In his response, Singhal stresses that Google doesn’t make changes to its algorithm to hurt competitors. Katz, of course, doesn’t believe this for a second and argues that Google “has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.”
Katz also gives some advise to European Union Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who is responsible for Competition and who is expecting a response to his anti-trust concerns regarding Google next month. The Nextag CEO argues that Google needs to become more transparent about when advertisers get better placement in search results and when a result is a Google-owned property” (Google, interestingly, doesn’t answer this charge).
Google: “If users don’t like our results, they can try Bing,Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or even Google Minus Google.”
In addition, he says that Google needs to be less biased and “should also allow users to reduce the number of ads shown or incorporate a user’s preferred services in search results.” Google’s answer to this is pretty straightforward: “If users don’t like our results, they can try Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or even Google Minus Google.”
Katz’s last recommendation may just be the strangest of the bunch, though. He says that Google “should grant all companies equal access to advertising opportunities regardless of whether they are considered a competitor.” Given that Google’s advertising system is based on an auction-system, I’m not sure what Katz is hinting at here (feel free to let me know in the comments if you have an idea).
Maybe a discussion about whether Google behaves like a monopoly and is treating its competitors unfairly is worth having. I’m not sure Katz’s arguments today really add much to this discussion, though. Katz obviously wants his old search engine rankings back. His issues, it feels to me, are more about that than about whether Google is a monopoly or not.
Given Nextag’s Lack Of Transparency, Its WSJ Opinion Piece Asking For Google Transparency Isn’t Wise
Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz is out today in the Wall Street Journal with an opinion piece taking Google to task over a lack of transparency and fairness. Perhaps it’s not the smartest move, given that all his arguments can be neatly turned back against Nextag. Moreover, unlike Google, NexTag is…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
It appears as if this talk of Google’s monopoly in search is not going away for whatever reason. I have made my feelings very clear on this subject in the past. To recap, I think all of the FairSearch efforts and lobbying the EU as well as the US government in an attempt to label Google a monopoly and thus try to somehow regulate it as pure junk at best and “finger nails down a chalkboard” like whining at worst.
If you decide to read the entire Op-Ed piece from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal by Nextag’s CEO, Jeffrey Katz, you can draw your own conclusions as to where his argument fits in the Google monopoly fray. For me it’s the same shrill whine that has been spewed by everyone who feels they have been ‘wronged’ by Google or has a crazy entitlement attitude in a free market system. But that’s just me. Here is a sample of what Mr. Katz feels and let’s just say it’s not where I land in all of this at all.
It’s a position all business leaders would love to find themselves in—a massive IPO, dominance in the marketplace, and a blank slate from policy makers to do practically anything they please.
Google has enjoyed this unrivaled position for nearly a decade. It is the most popular search engine in the world, controlling nearly 82% of the global search market and 98% of the mobile search market. Its annual revenue is larger than the economies of the world’s 28 poorest countries combined. And its closest competitor, Bing, is so far behind in both market share and revenue that Google has become, effectively, a monopoly.
Translation: Darn that free market and the right of consumers to make decisions between several options and they keep picking the one they like the most! Darn it!
Of course, Katz is simply setting the stage for his rant with this opening salvo. He continues
At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.
Translation: Darn you Google, you silly free market company that has created a service that many people like and rely on daily! Darn you for making changes that you feel might make YOUR product better and in the process hurt my product because it doesn’t meet your standards anymore for the reasons that you determined are best for your product to do its job in the best way possible! Darn you!
Katz goes on (and on and on and on and on ……)
As the CEO of a price-comparison company that benefits from Google’s search results, I openly admit that we—along with everyone else in the industry—have been impacted by these changes to Google’s search platform. In the past, we have benefited precisely because we’ve provided one of the best shopping sites on the Web—and Web traffic from Google used to follow accordingly. Google highlighted our services in search results over their own, because our services were better—and they still are. But Google’s latest changes are clearly no longer about helping users.
Translation: Darn you Google for exposing that maybe my service (which I can subjectively say is better than the rest and act as if what I say is equivalent to the word of God) is not staying competitive as the years roll by! Darn you for giving me all of the benefit for so many years that I may have put my efforts on cruise control and GPS but now you changed course! Darn you for exercising your right as a company (not a government entity that many seem to confuse you with) to do what you feel is right, then offering that result to the public to decide whether they like it or not, then dare to make money in the process. Darn you!
There’s more to Katz’s ‘argument’ so feel free to read it all but this was the kicker in my opinion.
We’re at a pivotal moment. Google has spent years trying to monopolize every avenue through which a company can reach users online—whether it is through search, advertising, email, mobile devices or browsers. But now that European Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia has given Google a July 2 deadline to respond to the EU’s antitrust concerns, let’s hope the company’s directors wake up and take corrective action for the sake of Internet freedom.
All kidding aside here. Google is threatening Internet freedom?! Really?! I thought that was China’s job.
If you want to see just how popular Mr. Katz’s views are read the comments following the piece. Let’s just say that most WSJ readers are not Nextag or Jeffrey Katz fans.
The trouble with all of this is that we are living in an environment where his type of screech owl approach could get some traction. Google helped to put a government in place that could very well take the side of a shrill voice like Katz’s because it could appear to fight Goliath (Google) on behalf of the all the little Davids out there because votes may be at stake. I am not saying that is happening now so you can unbunch your knickers. It’s simply a possibility just as much as the government leaving well enough alone and chalking up Mr. Katz’s rant to that pesky free speech thingy where anyone, regardless of whether they make any sense or not, can have a soap box. It is, after all, one of the things that makes this country great at times.
So how do you feel about this whole thing? Are you of the belief that Nextag is being screwed by Google or do you feel that Nextag’s position can be simply chalked up to them not being as competitive as Mr. Katz ‘knows’ them to be? Let’s hear your voice in the comments.
Oh, and Mr. Katz, if you have read this we would LOVE to get your two cents. So you know, we rank comments on a first come first served basis using the Facebook commenting system. If you have any issues with it call Mark Zuckerberg. I am sure he would love to hear from you!