Slate’s “The Big Money” site lays out what is certain to be an interesting debate over the course of the next year: Google’s anti-trust position and how the company should be evaluated. Google argues, according to the piece, that it should be seen not in the context of search or even online advertising as a whole. Rather, Google contends, it should be evaluated in the broader context of all US advertising, where it “holds only a 2.66 percent share of its total market.”
This re-framing of Google’s market is going to strike cynics and skeptics as “total BS.” But the question of market “scoping” is an appropriate discussion to have: What is Google’s relevant market for anti-trust purposes?
Secretly Google might also be hoping for Microsoft’s Bing to have some small measure of success — just not too much. By showing growth, Bing would also demonstrate, Google will argue, that the search market isn’t forever going to be locked up by Mountain View. That would also make it somewhat more difficult, ironically, for Microsoft itself to argue publicly (or privately) that Google is a monopoly.
On a related note, the Rimm-Kaufman Group says that on the PPC side Bing/Microsoft has seen a slight uptick in paid growth and Google is seeing some small declines:
Source: Rimm-Kaufman Group
Just as Google “helped” Microsoft’s online business services group because it created a fierce competitor (Microsoft probably wouldn’t agree), Google must be grateful for competition. Google needs strong competitors or it could become complacent — or inspire regulators to intervene.