Google Gets Serious About Microsoft, While The FTC Gets Serious About Targeted Ads

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Google vs. Microsoft
(image from gargprateek)

While many people are intrigued by news about celebrities, that type of news has never been something that interests me. Instead, my daily fix of news comes from the technology world, specifically from Techmeme. Because this is the type of news I enjoy, I have really enjoyed watching the growing battle between Google and Microsoft unfold over the course of this summer.

Although I’m not going to rehash the history of competition between these two titans (since I’m confident you are already familiar with it), there has been a new development in the story. While Microsoft is placing its bets on Bing and it’s new deal with Yahoo, Google has a different target: Microsoft Office.

In attempt to increase the market share of Google Apps, the company is launching an aggressive advertising campaign called Going Google. In addition to advertising online (which will include ad campaigns on large websites, a Twitter account and a “Spread the Word” site), Google is also going to dip into billboard advertising. As TechCrunch reports:

Google Billboard

“But the crown jewels of this campaign will be billboards on four major U.S. highways that will give a new message about Google apps everyday for a month.

The billboards will be placed on the 101 in San Francisco, the West Side Hwy in New York, the Ike in Chicago, and Mass Pike in Boston.”

While Google has placed a bullseye on Microsoft Office, the FTC has placed a bullseye on something different: targeted online advertising. As described in a Business Week article, Jon Leibowitz, who is the Chairman of the FTC, has his sights set on imposing stricter regulations on targeted online advertising. Although most marketers are in favor of targeted online advertising (because it allows them to deliver more personalized ads, which in turn can dramatically help their conversion rate), Leibowitz and other consumer advocates feel that advertisers are being deceptive in the that they collect and use data about Internet users.

Although this could initially be dismissed as hyperbole, Leibowitz is very serious about this issue, as demonstrated by his previous efforts:

Sears is the latest target of a campaign against spyware that has forced millions of dollars in settlements from companies such as DirectRevenue and Zango, which had profited from software that installed itself on computers and collected data without users’ consent.

Because Leibowitz’s targets could include companies like Google and Facebook, this is definitely a story that every Internet marketer should be following!

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