Google’s “Do No Evil” Brand Message

When it comes to brand marketing, transparency is your best friend and greatest ally. If you can remain transparent with your advertising, social marketing, and overall message, and stick to that transparency throughout your brand’s lifetime, you will turn some heads and make a bit of a profit. Even the search engines, Yahoo, Google and Bing, benefit from being transparent and honest with their audience. So, when Google was recently found guilty of ‘deceptive advertising practices’ we decided to take a deeper look at exactly what they were up to and how transparent they really are.

Deceptive Advertising on Google

“Don’t be evil” is Google motto. While it’s not the official mission statement, “Don’t be evil” is a phrase that has followed Google ever since the creator of Gmail Paul Buchheit used it to describe why he felt Google was superior to the competition at the time. The motto is also coined at “Do no evil” and “You can make money without doing evil.”

 

Many can certainly argue that Google has lost its way and is no longer ‘making money without doing evil.’ Many can also certainly argue that Google no is no longer consistent with its brand message and has never really been transparent with its audience. While all of that might be true, and can be argued both ways, this recent guilty charge out of Australia certainly sheds some light on how Google has lost its “Do no evil” message.

 

According to PCMag, an Australian court this week found that Google engaged in deceptive advertising practices with a series of ads on Google Australia.

 

Basically, if a user conducted a search on Google from within Australia for ‘iPad,’ Google’s Sponsored Links (the advertising at the very top of Google search results) were deceivingly attracting clicks claiming to transfer users to the Apple iPad, but in fact would transfer users to Amazon’s rival Kindle Fire. This misleading tactic was not only completely against the law in terms of deceptive advertising, it was also completely against Google’s own brand message “you can make money without doing evil.”

 

“This is an important outcome because it makes it clear that Google and other search engine providers which use similar technology to Google will be directly accountable for misleading or deceptive paid search results,” said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims.

 

Advertising on Google

What is also interesting about this guilty ruling is that is places direct blame on the advertising host, in this case Google, for what Amazon was doing; paying for the keyword “Apple iPad” while advertising a completely different product, the Kindle Fire. Even as Amazon bought and paid for the keyword “Apple iPad” and managed the advertisement, wording and placement, Google, as the advertising host, played the ultimate price.

 

“The enquiry is made of Google and it is Google’s response which is misleading,” the court said. “Although the key words are selected by the advertiser, perhaps with input by Google, what is critical to the process is the triggering of the link by Google using its algorithms.”

 

As far as Google’s consistency to its brand message, I am one that personally believes they are veering far from the “Do no evil” message.