Scroogled = Getting Screwed By Google

Let’s first start off by saying smear campaigns only works if: A.) Those being smeared deserve it and everybody agrees, or B.) You distort the truth to some degree and in some manner. But half-truths are whole lies and he who hath no sin can cast the first stone! That means Microsoft; you need to put down the rock buddy.

 

Low Blows, Cheap Shots, and Smear Campaigns. Microsoft's Marketing Ploy: Getting Scroogled A Case Study

You’re not only one of a limited few who are actually attempting to stone Google, but are more deserved of being target practice for the countless thousands, and possibly, millions of lives you’ve made exceedingly more difficult throughout your long and rather infamous career. Consider Comcast currently, do they deserve to be called out by their competitors for their awful customer service? Yes they certainly do, and people would love who ever did it. This is all to say, in the end, Microsoft has no room to talk trash about Google, or their products, or really any other tech company. Save for IBM of course, you would be hard pressed to do more damage than IBM caused during World War 2 and the Holocaust (More Information Here: http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com).

But if Microsoft wants to talk about a track record of failure, bad products, and bad ideas… let’s go ahead and see what I can conjure up here for Microsoft themselves. I am by no means a tech historian, and considering Google is probably too high class to start slinging insults themselves (ammunition for which they are amply supplied), I’ll do my best here to set the record straight. I also dare the reader to mentally note how some Microsoft products, in all of their forms, may have made your day absolutely unbearable. I mention some because unlike Microsoft, I attempt to be honest and fair in all my dealings.

There are indeed, and without a doubt, a great number of quality products Microsoft does put out. For example, I am writing this piece in Microsoft’s OneNote, which is a rather useful and handy application. But for our purpose, let’s call ourselves the scales of justice and let’s shift this weight of ridicule a bit more accurately and appropriately. Because as it stands, Microsoft is like the pot calling the kettle black…. And Google isn’t even a kettle. Which makes the whole thing a little odd and weird…

Microsoft’s Impeccable Products and Services They Somehow Fail To Remember

  1. IT Managers, don’t cringe when I say missing product keys and Microsoft support centers. (Once you calm down again, please continue reading). In case you didn’t know the real name you should call this nefarious and sinister villain, it’s aptly dubbed Windows Genuine Advantage. And advantageous it was… especially for Microsoft.
  2. Gamers, 5 words: The Xbox ring of death. Muah ha ha ha! That’s what I imagine was uttered when Microsoft knowingly shipped and sold countless defective systems all for the sake of their products’ speedy arrival to market. Quality? No qualms there, we’re Microsoft remember? You can trust us! …Oh and did we ever. Like moths to the flame.
  3. Operating Systems that Infuriate: Windows 3.0, 95, ME, Vista (If I never had to say that word again I’d die content), even Windows 8 has backlash from desktop users considering it was originally a mobile application patched together to work on PC. Which somehow it barely manages.
  4. Office 2007 which forced the new DOCX file format on the entire world. While Office 2013 is subscription-based software many people use and rely on today—frequently—the whole move was rather… well, greedy to say the least.
  5. Does Microsoft recall this little gem in 1998 when the U.S Department of Justice and the Attorneys General of twenty U.S states sued Microsoft for illegally thwarting competition in order to protect and extend its software monopoly? To note, Microsoft was found guilty of committing monopolization, attempted monopolization, and tying in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. (More Information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Corp). I mean… I should probably just stop the list here. In fact, I should have just named this one instance and called it a day. Microsoft was literally sued by the United States for unfair business dealings yet can somehow muster the gall to slander Google who has not done anything wrong. At least legally or elsewise as far as most are concerned.

Now, on that last point, there are many people who would exclaim that Google has a monopoly upon search, and is moving towards that for paid advertisements online as well. Having a monopoly means having exclusive possession and control of some product or service. Google might have a tight grip on their market control, as well as take in ridiculous amount of revenue from ad spend, but their control is by no means exclusive. People have plenty of options for how they search online and Google doesn’t do anything to stop you from using any of their competitors. Save of course except for offering a far superior service. But there is no foul play occurring.

Now, for paid advertisement revenue, that’s the result of the dealings with their display network partners and the success of their own website design. Can you remember what search engines looked like prior to Google? In essence they all resembled current day Yahoo… save for the fact they managed to cram even more bits of information: ads, pop-ups, and anything else possible onto their homepages. The homepage of Yahoo today looks like something Don Draper would concoct after a long night of drinking, debauchery, Ritalin, and other handfuls of pharmaceuticals. It’s absolutely chaotic, though seemingly put together in an attempted planned and methodical way. Now, of course Yahoo does offer other things that Google outright doesn’t provide themselves, such as games, stock quotes, or dating advice. Their business model is also very different.

That said, it’s pretty obvious which design, and model, is appreciated more by users. The proof is in the pudding, Google has some 80% of the search market share. Why? Because they’re simply better at what they do and offer exactly what people want to find with no fuss. And that’s the bare bones of it. We’re not even mentioning automated vehicles, Google Glasses, Google Play, Maps, Books, Knowledge Graph, or any other number of rather awesome products, services, and applications they’ve offered. You want to know what else makes Google cool… they don’t mind having a little fun either. Obviously, but search each of these queries exactly: “tilt” and “do a barrel roll”. What did you notice? First question… Why? Only answer… why not. I love star fox, and a little engineering joke goes a long way to those that are amused by them. How many other hidden Easter egg searches exist? I would imagine quite a few.

I originally attempted to list everything you see when first landing on the Yahoo website but soon gave that crazy game up. Let’s just say that when you’re searching for a needle, would you rather look for it in an empty white room, or a room filled with everything under the sun? Of course this is just a metaphor, but a rather accurate one. Google’s simplicity is what first attracted users to search through them, and what eventually became these users’ preferred method of search. There were no frills, nothing distracting, and nothing fancy. Next to nothing Google offers today was being offered back then, and they were still the preferred search engine. It was like going to the library where loud and obnoxious people were told to shut up finally so you could actually just find something you were looking for in peace and quite. Google initially, and still largely today, wanted to focus on providing the most relevant results and information they could. That’s it. In essence, they wanted to become the encyclopedia of the Internet… a feat that they’ve mostly accomplished. Before the Internet, and search engines, there was the Encyclopedia Britannica… you remember your grandparents epic collection always prominently displayed in their home? I certainly do. But the idea was it was a trusted source of extremely valuable information, with a lot of information to boot. Britannica simply organized the world’s information and events into an easy to search for manner.

This is what Google accomplished on the Internet originally… that was their success. Since then they’ve grown successful in other ways, but in the end it’s all still based on them providing the most useful and relevant information possible. They’ve simply morphed other interests into the works while maintaining the steady course of offering a great search service for free. That is all to say, Google has market control, but it is not exclusive nor do they attempt to make it be by any nefarious means. They do honest work, through honest dealings. In the end they play fair. In fact, as far as large companies go… whom of similar size has the comparable positive brand perception or image that Google has? That goes for any industry… I’d say they’re few and far between. I mean… does anyone remember how the Chinese people reacted to Google around censorship in their country in 2010? What other company has had people willingly place tributes of flowers and thank you letters all over their company’s headquarters? I mean it’s quite honestly a pretty remarkable thing. At that point, you’re not viewed as a business per se; Google was viewed, by some at least, as a bastion of hope. They were heroes. (More information here: http://www.newyorker.com/news/evan-osnos/china-and-google-illegal-flower-tribute)

But then here comes Microsourpuss attempting to Microshaft a company that not only didn’t deserve the slander, but especially didn’t deserve hearing it come from a company who Microscrewed countless customers in the past. Bill Gates is obviously one of the world’s largest and greatest philanthropists and that should not be discounted in any way. But Bill Gates is an individual, Microsoft is a company. A company that has done very little in comparison to Google, not only on an emotionally connecting level, but also on a quality of product and service level. Sure, Microsoft may be older and they may have brought more products and services to market than Google. But numbers-wise… Google rarely goofs up. Or if they do they correct their mistakes rather quickly. Initially, I suppose YouTube sort of started falling apart there for a minute after Google initially took them over. But they soon fixed that and everything then worked better than it did before. This is their typical story. If they goof up, they admit it, and fix it. Enough said. That’s about as much as you can hope for and expect from anyone.

Microsoft’s Smear Campaign Attack Plan… Oh The Brilliancy Of It

As far as the cleverness for this portmanteau is concerned, well done Microsoft. Your wit exceeded your typical brutish nature on this one. However, still your strategy of sullying, smearing, and defaming the Google name brand was, well… lackluster, rather indignant, seemingly ineffective, and absolutely reeked of desperation. Some would venture to say Microsoft took off the gloves and hit Google where it hurt. But who respects the guy in a boxing match that fights dirty? Can anyone possibly imagine Google creating a marketing campaign idea as unsavory and cringe worthy as the ones Microsoft has made? I mean… they even hired the guys from Pawn Stars to start ripping on them (which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjQhYBKInwo). I’ve never even once seen Google ever put anything out that was either negative or focused on any of their competitors. Every Google ad is happy-sounding, fun, and light-hearted.

For those that don’t know by now, getting Scroogled means getting screwed by Google. That one made up word was the absolute backbone of the smear campaign created by Microsoft. It’s as though someone said this and chuckled to themselves or perhaps made a running joke of it. Microsoft marketing managers caught wind of this and said, “Brilliant! We’re going all in on this one folks… ” “But what do you mean, it’s just a word? How can we possibly make an entire ad campaign based around this?” “Oh we’ll find a way… and if we can’t find it we’ll make it.” That’s what it honestly appears to be. To put it in perspective, let’s look at what the basic game plan was for Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Expertly Devised Smear Campaign Attack Plan:

  1. Smear Google Shopping Service:
    Quoting Microsoft: “Simply put, all of their [Google’s] shopping results are now paid ads.”
  2. Attack Gmail
    Microsoft alleges Google reads personal emails to create more targeted ads.
  3. Slander Google Play Store
    Microsoft alleges Google hands over personal information to app developers.
  4. Develop Scroogled Website
    Create Scroogle website to keep all of our attacks and cross-promotions in one place. Absolutely ridiculous… http://www.scroogled.com/Home
  5. Sell Scroogled Merchandise
    Hats, mugs, hoodies, t-shirts, and so on. Because you’ll be well-received for wearing or using this swag in public.
  6. Trash Talk Chromebook
    Microsoft argued that without “Windows or Office” it is not a real laptop.
  7. All The While Boast About How Much Better Microsoft Is
    Every bit of criticism against Google came with an alternative to using Google, that being Microsoft products and services, obviously.

The whole thing appears, at least to those that know better, to be Microsoft literally grasping at straws. Throwing anything at the wall to see if it’ll stick. But what could? Of course shopping results are paid advertisements… you’re shopping. If you weren’t shopping, you would do a normal search. It’s also not as though this results in the whole David vs. Goliath scenario, which is why quality scores strongly come into play when deciding on which ads are most relevant to the user’s search query. Google does not, nor would they ever consider reading your emails. They have way too much to lose over reading your happy birthday letter from your 6-year-old niece who wrote you in adorably broken English. Even if Google was to hand over personal information to app developers, which we ALL DO ALL THE TIME, they would first ask us if this is ok. Just as everyone always does. The statement that a laptop is not real without Windows or Office? Chromebook is $200!! It’s a cheap alternative for users who only need something for web browsing, perhaps a few apps, or whatnot. No it won’t have all the functions of other laptops… but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s like I’m selling an apple and your telling me it’s not an apple because it doesn’t taste like other oranges. But we’re still both selling fruit that’s round, grows from a tree; you can make juice from, and is delicious. The logic behind this entire campaign was beyond broken or flawed… if anything it simply felt vengeful and desperate. With a slight hint of daftness… which actually makes it comical.

The Shameful Truth Of This Story

Everything above is not even mentioning how much money was actually spent on this marketing campaign. Imagine how much good Microsoft could have done with the money they decided to spend on sullying Google’s name if they only decided to spend it elsewhere. Imagine the positive feedback they perhaps could have generated rather than… well, all of this. It’s ridiculous. Millions of dollars were undoubtedly spent on this campaign. Really? Why not donate that money to a charity, give a bunch of kids in need of real laptops, or computers for their home, or fill schools up with new teaching tech gear, or anything, absolutely anything beyond being a schoolyard bully. Because that’s what happened here. There’s Microsoft, the gluttonous and rather unpopular bully on the playground that’s out of shape and been held back a few years who thinks he knows it all and deserves everything. Then this cool kid named Google transfers to the same school. Google is good-looking, kind, talented, understanding, smells good… talks right, is courteous, good at sports, donates his time, and overall very well intentioned. As such, Google immediately becomes the popular kid. Now Microsoft, being oh so jealous of Google’s popularity, which they themselves have more in infamy than respect, and knowing he can’t beat Google in any game, or at any sport, or really in any way, resorts to the only thing a blubbering bully knows how to do. Microsoft resorts to name-calling, stretching truths, being overtly hypocritical, and overall showing their true colors. Those being yellow and doodie-brown. It’s shameful… the whole thing. Google doesn’t deserve disrespect from someone who has lost much of the public’s respect a long time ago. The problem with Microsoft using this smear campaign against Google can be summed up in one statement: When you don’t have anything to respect in yourself, when you are no longer respected, you are inherently unable to be respectful of others, even those well deserving of it, simply because you don’t understand it or don’t care too. How can we expect Microsoft to do what they don’t know or care to do?

That said, and more so due to this smear campaign than Microsoft’s numerous shortcomings in the past, I’ve lost respect for the aging tech giant. What marketing manager in their right mind would allow this campaign to go live? Imagine all the hands this idea had to pass through to be accepted and allowed to move forward. It’s insane. Now I will also not say that Google does everything right. No one can. But I will mention the one absolute best thing Google has done for us overall. They single handedly tamed the wild west of the Internet. Google did indeed turn itself into the Internet Police, which certainly ruffled some feathers (“Law don’t go around here law dog”), but can anyone remember what the Internet was like prior to the standards set by Google for websites? And remember, it’s not that Sherriff Google would kick you out of the West as a whole, just out of Dodge. In other words, if you wanted to play in their town, and in terms of western towns theirs is pretty darn nice, then you have to play by their rules. If you want to be a cowboy or outlaw… have at it, wrap that red sash up around your waist and get out of town (obviously that doesn’t keep with the theme of the Tombstone story). But no one is stopping you and no one can, especially Google. Any website you can fathom can be created, good or bad. Google just doesn’t want trouble in their town… And at the time, and still today, trouble is abound online.

Scammy sites, spammy sites, sites that were annoying, sites that were deploring, sites that the average innocent should never have to be exposed to. These sites are still available, you can find them. They lurk in the dark recesses of the Internet. But you won’t easily find such scum in Dodge. Not where Google polices. Google brought a standard to websites that was not present previously. We should all not scorn Google for taming this wild land, ‘cause wild it still is. We should be happy Google has made the Internet a better place for us all to adventure, explore, and roam. If only from starting from the safety of their outpost. Furthermore, following this analogy, they made traveling to websites easier while ensuring that where they direct us was exactly where we wanted to go. It’s not like the Oregon Trail—rather we’re now flying first class, transcontinental, sipping mojitos and taking selfies. I would argue I’d trust buying something from, or at least visiting, the first search result on any page resulting from any search through Google. I can’t say that about every website listed for search results, as scoundrels exist even under the watchful eye of Google, but typically none of them will ever be the first result, or appear on the first page. Scammy and undependable sites are eventually found by Google and told to clean up their act. In the meantime they’re pushed further and further down in results to ensure no user unintentionally visits the site unless they know that’s what they’re looking for. If a site’s really bad… Google will banish you to the wastelands where the only refuge you’ll find are amongst the likes of Bing and Yahoo. If you thought traffic to your site was slow originally, break Google’s law and assume some 80% of your organic traffic will immediately disappear. Now is that Google’s fault? No. You didn’t play by their rules and got kicked out of their game. And it is their game, their service (being indexed for free amazingly), their house, and their law. Google doesn’t own the Internet; they’ve simply compiled it in an easy to search for way specifically intended for use by its users. You can hoop, holler, whale, and whine all you want that it’s unfair, and many do… but again: It’s their game. Either play it as it’s to be played or don’t. But don’t complain you don’t like the rules of a game you don’t own, have a stake in, or have any control over. The only way you can make your vote count in the online world is by your preferred usage. If everyone shifted over to Bing, or stopped using Ad words, or joining the Search network, or watching YouTube videos, using Gmail, or any of their other products/services… Google would undoubtedly take a very long hard look at themselves and adjust accordingly. Where you spend your time and money is the biggest influencing factor any individual has online. This is how success, for the most part, is measured by businesses. Traffic, time on site, and revenue generated.

In the end, an enormous company failed miserably at an obviously thoroughly designed and well-funded marketing campaign. If you’re going to do marketing, why do anything negative? People are already exposed to so much negativity on a daily basis, that when we see it, good news is a welcome relief. People love Google. Everyone knows that. You would be a halfwit to think you could change that fact with a few lies, a website, some merchandise, and exaggerated claims… but even a halfwit in this case is still half a compliment. Yeah… you’d certainly be a nowit. No wit, no how. Or better yet, Nowit Knowhow. (Wit… ptfff. If Google were a lesser company I’d personally pitch them that smear slogan). Microsoft started this campaign in late 2012 and somehow the reason I’m writing this piece is because I’m still coming across Scroogled content online. The Scroogled website is still active and it’s as though the campaign is hibernating until the Microsoft marketing department can scrape up something else to rag on. I can personally go through every point Microsoft states against Google and say it’s either completely wrong or entirely misleading. Worse yet, many points Microsoft complains about they’re actually being entirely hypocritical about, and worse still… by most measures it appears Bing is copying Google almost identically, which must be why Google, rather than retaliating, is sitting back and no doubt laughing. Emulation is the biggest form of flattery, and if you really want to know whether your competitors are afraid of you or not, simply look at the number of substantiated negative claims they can make against you. In this case… it is none. Yet boy does Microsoft try… and try is all they can do.