I am sitting here drinking out of my official Google mug feeling incredibly guilty yet righteous.
As you know, if you read the Special Issue we emailed you on Monday afternoon, we just outed Google for possibly overstating the success metrics of its new ad unit, and for doing business on an opt-out basis.
Thing is, neither of these failings are a huge sin in the overall scheme of things. And certainly many other companies (including some of Google's competitors) are equally or more guilty of them.
So why bother reporting on it in this instance; and, why do I feel so guilty? Blame branding.
Google's the warm, fuzzy brand-of-the-year. I've been trained by their brand to expect specific types of business practices from them.
So, when competitor Overture announced a deal to put ads on much- maligned Gator this week, I shrugged it off. But when Google, a company that refuses to take ads linking to sites with pop-ups, were a little too hopefully positive about their new ad unit conversion figures, I was stunned.
It wasn't fair of me.
But, I guess that's the hard reality behind great brand marketing.
If you do such a good job of making people love and trust your brand that they go out and buy the mug, then you're judged against higher standards.
This is an especially important lesson for those of us working for Web-based companies. If you're a pure-play, your brand is critical. After all, people have no other palpable experience of your company to judge by.
And, as we reported a few weeks back, less than 12% of online shoppers make buying decisions on price alone.
So, yes the Web is a fabulous direct response medium ... but branding matters now more than ever before.
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