A blog on using the power of Disruptive Business Models to build successful businesses...and other stuff. by Joe Agliozzo

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Google "Beginning of the Backlash?"

John Battelle and Fred Wilson both post today on the beginnings of a percieved backlash against Google.

The timing of these types of opinions coming forth and the new AdWords Terms of Service are interesting, and my previous post regarding the new "no 3rd party apps" terms of service generated a lot of comments both here and at the BetterPPC Blog. Many, many small companies have been working on applications for AdWords that use the API since it was released in January and now are worried that the effort will be for naught.

Is Google going to be the next Microsoft, a giant predatory that wants anything and everything for itself and exacts a toll on all connected with it?

Or do they intend the more modern (and moderate) approach of encouraging many 3rd party apps to flourish around the search engine and ad platform (and gmail and maps and base and ...). Seems like this would be a more "enlightened" and also more profitable long term approach.

As a follow up to this story, the "AdWords Evangelist", Google Employee Patrick Chanezon has posted a response (warning: not very enlightening). Meanwhile the "Commercial API" appears slated for release on January 1, 2006.

Seems ironic now, but we are actually now eagerly awaiting the release of MSN AdCenter and revamping of Yahoo SEM! - let the market forces begin!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Google's New API Terms of Service - A "Google Economy" or Not?

I spent quite a few hours this weekend reviewing the new Google AdWords API terms of service. All I can say is "wow". As pointed out on the Google AdWords API Developers forum, Google either Google wants to prohibit virtually EVERYONE from using the API (and if so, then why bother developing and releasing it in the first place?) or they have the world's worst lawyers.

When you read the agreement, the gist of it is basically this:

AdWords advertisers can't use any applications that use the API that have been developed for them by third parties. Advertisers can only use those that are developed for them in house or "custom" built for them. If your app can be sold to more than one customer or is hosted and made available for more than one customer, apparently that is against the TOS.

(See Section II, paragraph 2 - "2) Non-Compliant AdWords API Clients. You shall not use an AdWords API Client that violates this AdWords API Agreement. For example, you may not use your Developer Token with an AdWords API Client developed or hosted by a Third Party (excluding an Internal-Use Only AdWords API Client developed for you)."

That's it. End of story.

Another important part of the backstory on this is that Google has a "My Client Center" Account structure. The MCC is like a master account and the API calls are made through the MCC account, via the MCC Developer token for each account. The cited language above now prohibits this. The problem with putting all customers in the software provider's MCC account is that it then limits the client to using only that provider's software. Currently many advertisers use different software for different functions and this will be impossible under the new terms and conditions.

I found this hard to believe so I called Google and asked if, for instance, AtlasOnePoint would no longer be available to advertisers, and was told no, absolutely not, and that there was no special deal for them or anyone else. The intent of Google is not to prohibit these types of services. The rep I spoke with said someone from the API team would get back to me (but no one has as of yet).

Other issues for a later post include the fact that Google is going to require extensive Google branding on any app that uses the API, security measures for the data extracted, prohibitions against sharing the data and a paragraph previewing service charges for access to the API. This is especially hard to believe since presumably, any service that uses the API, in order to be commercially viable, would have to help advertisers be better/more efficient at what they do, which would presumably result in more revenue to Google, so why would Google charge for that and by doing so, discourage use of the API. Surely, Google, with all the billions of dollars in the bank, can't be worried about the expense of supporting an API, can they?

We'll see.

Blog Spam

Wow, I guess Google really needs to do some work on blog spam. Nice examples of it in all the comments to my entries.