Infrastructure // PC & Servers
News
9/17/2009
07:10 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The Limits of Google's Data Liberation

Google says it supports data portability. But how far should it go to help advertisers bring their campaigns to the competition?

With the launch of its Data Liberation Front Web site on Monday, Google has positioned itself as a champion of data portability and user rights. Given the tech industry's abiding love of lock-in, whereby users of a product or service face friction to move to a competing product or service, Google's stance is a welcome one.

But Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, suggests that Google's openness has limits. As he observed in a report published last year, Google's AdWords API Terms & Conditions impose restrictions which hamper advertisers' ability to copy their AdWords campaigns to competing ad platforms.

Edelman says that although Google has changed some of the language in its API Terms & Conditions, making the document "more complicated and more convoluted," the document remains "unchanged in substance."

Among the many clients Edelman has represented, Microsoft is the one that Google representatives will mention.

Google does provide a way to export AdWords campaign data: As documented on the Data Liberation Front Web site, AdWords users can generate a CSV file that can be imported into other advertising systems.

Edelman's complaint is that this particular manual process is cumbersome and inconsistent with the company's emphasis on ease of use. "Using the Adwords Editor to copy data between ad platforms is a real pain...", he said in an e-mail. "There is zero reason whatsoever why this should be so hard. Using the API, this process could be super easy -- one click, just like copying contacts from Outlook to your iPhone, or converting a doc from WordPerfect to Word."

Because this is a process that advertisers may need to do frequently, Edelman contends, it's a burden and a potential source of errors, a consequence of the repeated actions required.

Mark Simon, VP of industry relations at search marketing firm DidIt, acknowledges that the road from Google to other ad platforms isn't without obstacles, in a politic way.

"In many areas, Google is really leading the way in data portability -- something their 'Data Liberation Front' project earlier this week really highlights," he said in an e-mail. "But there will always be challenges for marketers who want to run advertising across multiple marketing channels (including multiple search engines). The key is to find a partner who can be as flexible and channel-agnostic as possible, given the hurdles."


InformationWeek Analytics has published an analysis of why automation is good for IT. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.