January 23, 2007

Google, Online Vendors, and Accountability

For all of the e-commerce and multichannel executives who follow my commentary, I am curious what you think of Google.

For those of you who spent your formative years in the catalog industry, you know the vital importance of a partnership with the USPS, with your merge/purge house, and with your printer. Without these partners, your catalogs didn't get delivered to the homes of your loyal customers. If the catalogs didn't arrive, you didn't generate sales.

Today, the e-commerce ecosystem has replaced the USPS, Experian and Quad Graphics with your ISP, a myriad of e-mail vendors, and Google.

Do you view your ISP, e-mail vendors and Google as strategic partners? Do you apply the same level of pressure on them that you applied to Quad Graphics about image quality, Experian about duplicate names, or the USPS about delivering your catalog two days late?

Can you prove that 194,381 valid customers clicked on your sponsored link on Google? How do you hold Google accountable? How could you ever hold Google accountable?

Does the Direct Marketing Association lobby as hard for your online issues as they lobbied for postal reform?

What are your thoughts? Are you letting Google and others off the hook, compared with the other vendors you work with?

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