Since the introduction of Google in 1998, it has progressively become the world’s most popular search engine. Processing over one billion requests and twenty petabytes of data every day, the word has even worked its way into everyday usage and been awarded entries into various English dictionaries. Although it quickly surpassed more traditional search engines such as Yahoo and MSN Live, its rapid growth attracted a lot of criticism – specifically in the marketing and publishing industries.
With its acquisition of popular Web publishing program DoubleClick in 2007, the corporate monolith also acquired a large list of DoubleClick’s clients. The technology featured in the program allowed Google to utilize behavioral targeting to its fullest, drawing criticism from users that this invaded their privacy by tracking their behavior on the Internet.
Although 99% of Google’s revenue comes from its advertising programs, they come with many disadvantages and have received complaints about their difficulty of use. Because of concerns with click fraud, search engine optimization firms have criticized AdSense as a source of invalid clicks, driving up advertising costs for companies. Google also withholds payment on an AdSense account until it reaches $100, an amount that may take years to reach for smaller companies. Many accounts have even been shut down before they were due to receive their first paycheck, inciting a lot of fury from legitimate account owners and publishers.
With the introduction of Bing marketing, publishers breathed a sigh of relief. For a mere $5, users can import their settings from Google and can even expand ads and marketing efforts to mobile search ads. Bing lists all its demographics and is incredibly simple to use, especially when compared to Google.
Yahoo! also provides a host of options for publishers and businesses. Allowing users to create banner ads, advertise in search results, host their own website and even reach customers looking for local businesses, it seems to be more versatile than Google which is more oriented towards large businesses (which form a minority of overall marketing actions).
With their inability to combat click fraud on AdSense and the complicated method of setting up AdWords, a lot of users have left Google in search of something better and easier to use. Even DoubleClick, a program created specifically for marketing and Web publishing, is complicated to use and understand, with a non-intuitive interface which new users find difficult to navigate. The program has been linked to the spyware controversy since the cookies it adds track user actions as they travel across the Internet. Many commercial organizations such as Adaware and Symantec consider DoubleClick as malware and remove it when detected. It has also been criticized due to its lack of opt-out options for IP address-based tracking, which means advertisers can see where users are located and where their clicks are coming from.
Despite all the problems and criticisms associated with Google and its marketing options for businesses, it still seems to have the stronghold on small business Web publishing, although Bing is quickly rising because of the intuitiveness of its user interface and ease of use.