Who’s Really the Customer?

Who’s the customer for Google’s products – before you answer, take a moment to think how much you’re paying right now for

  • Email
  • Spreadsheets*
  • Calendaring
  • Phone Calls

Not really much at all, thanks to Google, and just a few of its many products.

So if you’re not the customer, then who is? Why does Google build all of this great stuff?

It’s because they’re creating new and varied channels for advertiser’s ads to appear in!

The only problem is, the same thing happens in online newspapers.

In print, their customer is the reader. There is such a long tradition of readability and typography in print publications, that articles are never interspersed with ads between paragraphs.

But online, their business model is driven by a CPM (cost per thousand), and so, they create layouts and designs that scream a million conflicting, competing messages.

When you read an article, you have to click through 8-10 pages of tiny bits of information or images, all to puff up multiple “page views,” one of the main measure against which advertising is priced.

With online publications, the advertisers are both givers and destroyers – they make the content possible, and yet are a serious drain on their usability.

The disconnect happens because we always assume that we should be the customer.

Things are bit off for a reason – they both need your eyeballs, and they need us, as “viewers,” to jump through certain hoops…

Aside from paid content, I don’t see this situation getting any better anytime soon.

Give credit to Google, that it’s able to continue making usable, useful products, and keeps their price free.

Enter Gmail Man- Microsoft’s Attempt to Discredit Google’s Interweaving of Ads and Email

Overall, I would say that Google’s use of ads doesn’t really interrupt the flow of the experience across any of their tools. Microsoft was really reaching for anything to nail Google on when they came up with the goofy and awkward “Gmail Man” video, embedded below. Personally, I use Gmail, don’t have a problem with it, and this video certainly didn’t do anything to change my mind. In my view, if anything, it makes Microsoft seem a bit desperate.

*aside from those companies that pay for GoogleDocs


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