Google Conspiracy Theory

Okay so I’m a HUGE fan of The X-Files, (don’t judge!) and for Christmas my partner gave me the complete boxed set & motion picture – something that by now, I’m sure, he’s sorry he did. Albeit among the best television programming in not-so recent history, all of the quality time I’ve spent with agents Fox and Mulder lately has definitely fired up my inner conspiracy-theorist.

This quest for the “real truth” creates an inevitable conundrum for me – balancing the principles of capitalism with skepticism.

Lately I’ve been lying awake at night in a bleary-eyed daze pondering the true motive behind Google’s ostensibly altruistic rollout of their new Website Optimizer to their AdWords clients.

On paper (or would the modern phrase be “on web page”) the Optimizer sounds like a neat tool. A:B and multivariate testing of landing page and site content elements tied directly to AdWords conversion tracking.

Neat-O!

Google’s Optimizer first debuted in the latter half of 2006 as an invitation-only beta; but it seems to have been rolled out a bit more globally as of late, prompting the inevitable question, “Why?”

It stands to reason that Google would offer such a tool to advertisers in an effort to improve campaign results and hopefully spur growth in ad spend (read: Google revenue). At the end of the day it’s all about increasing share-holder wealth, right? Right.

It’s tough, but I am able to reconcile that thought pattern with my truth-seeking, inner skeptic. The lid is blown right off, however, when talk turns to Google’s new beta of cost-per-action pricing.

Wait just a minute, there!

Let’s put this into end-user (typical marketing department staffer) perspective:
1. Sign up for an AdWords account
2. Use Google’s keyword tool to pick keywords from my site
3. Enable/setup Google’s Website Optimizer
4. Heed Google’s advice and make my page a conversion-generating machine
5. Pay only when a conversion occurs (in cost-per-action model)

What about lead quality? What about gross margin & average sale? What about cross selling and a whole slew of other metrics and tactics unique to each industry and company?

As I said earlier, Google’s Website Optimizer is, on the surface, a cool tool; however, a savvy marketer needs to keep his/her eyes wide open and consider the advice of a proprietary tool offered by a company whose revenue is derived from clicks and ultimately conversions.