I’ve noted on several occasions that I am an admirer of both Google (now Alphabet) and Amazon.com. As marketers we are involved with both every single day on behalf of our clients AND ourselves. We have a number of clients who offer their products on Amazon via the Amazon Direct Seller platform. Additionally paid search (SEM) is still dominated by Google (something close to 70% of all searches are done on Google).
But like most things, while both Amazon and Google provide impressive utility for countless businesses, I am disturbed enough about some of their collective business practices to dare to suggest that in becoming all-powerful, Google and Amazon are becoming TOO powerful. This is not necessarily a novel concept as plenty of people feel there’s innate evil when it comes to Amazon and Google. That’s not how I feel but I am coming closer to that notion.
I should also add that I am no fan of rampant regulation and yet my thought is that there is a possibility that at some point in the future both Google and Amazon may be regulated (like the phone companies were years ago), by government(s).
Why? Both Amazon and Google have the ability to severely impact a company’s business on their platforms. Temporary and even permanent account suspensions due to what Amazon or Google considers a ‘compliance’ issue or problem occur all the time.
We all recognize that public companies in public markets have to make decisions in the best interests of their shareholders and constituents. However in the process of trying to be good stewards, companies that rely in large part for their livelihoods on the two platforms have found themselves with a risk of losing their business that they never imagined.
Both Amazon and Google have policy review teams that are not ‘client facing’. Account managers act as liaisons from the policy team. There are some sound reasons for this which start with not allowing ‘Influence’ from clients who might be willing to throw money at an issue instead of rectify the actual problem. That is sensible until you become aware that often times the reasons for the account suspension are not clearly identified nor are the steps outlined on how to get back into compliance.
You can understand that it’s incredibly frustrating and aggravating to be in the position of being taken off the playing field without clear indication of why or how to get back on. Meanwhile your business is suffering, employees are worried about losing their jobs, and the business can quickly end up on life support.
With both Amazon and Google policies are ever changing and it’s critical for involved businesses to keep up with those changes. There are plenty of companies using both platforms that do not have the best interests of people at heart and protecting consumers is critical. But, and it’s a big BUT, arbitrary suspension of a company’s presence on either platform often has serious impact and sometimes, I know it might be hard to believe, Amazon and Google get it wrong.
So my question here is – acknowledging that it’s a slippery slope, do you feel that there might be a time in the future that Google and Amazon may have to be regulated by the U.S. Government (or any other government)?
I don’t want to sound like a socialist or a collectivist, but the whole, “We have to consider our investors and shareholders” mantra is often taken too far by todays business people. It’s a terrible excuse for thoughtless behavoir. Companies don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in communities and countries and they have responsibilities that go beyond shareholders and investors. This is especially true in today’s world where everything is so interconnected.
I work in an industry that has been deeply impacted by Amazon (and Google). I don’t think they’re evil. I think they’re interested in their shareholders and in turning a profit and it ends there because that is how we look at business in the 21st century. They aren’t “client facing” simply because they don’t want undue influence. They’re not “client facing” because they don’t have to.
Plus, the playing field is not level. Who competes with them, really? But we either play or we don’t.
I would advise today’s industry giants exactly the same thing I advise most of my small clients. “Don’t get cocky. Be humble. Think about others, too.”
I Wish there was a like button Joe. We all should expect better and strive for better. Thanks.