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Straight-Talk about the Strong like Google

Since my days at Rakuten, I have had many opportunities to talk with digital marketing vendors and marketers from Japan and overseas. What I personally see as the biggest difference between the stance of domestic and overseas marketers is a “culture of straightforward objections to the super-powerful, such as Google and Facebook, without fear. Specifically, in other countries, there is a culture of saying to Google and Facebook, “This feature update called xxx is no good!”or “That’s a violation of antitrust law!” Sometimes they even sue Google (Alphabet Inc.). In fact, in July of this year, Google was sued in 36 states of the U.S. for violating antitrust laws over the way it charges Android app developers(Hyperlink for the source). Meanwhile, in Japan, on the other hand, I have not heard such critical or constructive comments from major Japanese ad agencies or marketers, probably because of the relationship between them and Google Japan. I think it would be very unhealthy if there were an atmosphere that makes it difficult to speak up. (By the way, we receive a lot of critical and constructive comments about our products almost every week, thankfully:))

In this blog, I would like to focus on the above theme. I asked the ex-country manager of the German branch of a Google ad optimization vendor that I used to work with to give me his opinion on each of the following features (only some of them will be introduced).
1) Expanded text ads will be unavailable at the end of July next year
Answer: The reason Google is making this change is, that Google’s main & only KPI is the CTR on the ad, as they are missing out on $ if a user doesn’t click the ad. Therefore they take it in their own hand (better in the hand of their algorithm). I think this is critical, as it will be way harder to transport some USPs of advertisers that might be time-sensitive and so on. I think a mix between ETA’s and Responsive Ads is fine, but forcing the industry and giving them fewer insights is not the right way to go.

2) Partial non-disclosure of search term reports due to privacy policy
Answer: “Privacy”.. really Google? This is a huge deal and it is just not right. As Google has an interest ($) that advertisers bid on broad terms (more competition => higher CPC’s) instead of the exact terms that they gain through the search term report. Doing this and saying it’s a privacy issue made me laugh hard.

What did you think? I can’t think of any ad agencies or marketers in Japan that I know that are saying to the clients, “This is a really bad update, so be careful!” They just accept the way it will be, and introduce the new features to the clients. Period.

By the way, Google seems to have changed the direction of “2) Non-disclosure of some search term reports due to privacy policy” again, probably because so many marketers overseas raised their voices. To be able to see more search terms. In other words, they have a culture where they can say to the powerful (platformers), “That’s not right!” As a matter of fact, only those people who have the culture to say to the strong (platformers), “That’s not right! can change the current framework.

SOPHOLA and I are probably the weakest of the weak, but we will continue to think about things from a critical perspective and ask ourselves, “What does this really mean for advertisers and customers?” Of course, Google’s platform has a lot of really great features, and we’ll continue to use it properly!

Masaki “Mark” Iino
Founder & CEO