back to article 'You own the road!': Google gets spanking from media giant

Google chief legal officer David Drummond was on the receiving end of an unexpected mugging yesterday, as the CEO of Burda Media - one of Germany's largest and most successful publishing companies - tore into the Jolly G Giant, accusing it of controlling the market, lack of transparency and, effectively, running off with the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    T and Cs say it all

    "Google gets to decide how much or how little you get"

    If you are not in a dominant position then you wouldn't be able to do that to your customer!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "65 per cent of leads go through Google"

    I wonder what this actually means. If it just means that the HTTP referrer is Google in 65% of visits then that doesn't necessary mean that Google has a monopoly or any possibility of exploiting a monopoly. Some people have Google as their home page and when they want to go to Tesco's web site, say, they type "tesco" into Google. If Google didn't take them straight to Tesco's web site when they do that then they'd stop using that method. They'd use a different seach engine, or a bookmark, or just type into the URL field of the browser. So in this respect Google are just like the most popular directory enquiries service.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      So, you're asking for transparency then..

      You want a referrer that say "google ads" or "google search", which would indeed identiy just how much market control Google has. And it's exactly that reason that will ensure such a split will never, ever happen.

      It's actually rather amusing to see the "no evil" setup having to grab more and more to evil methods..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Published, open algorithms are not the issue

    "Drummond patted transparency on the head ("transparency, more transparency is always good...") then did the trade-off boilerplate about bad people gaming Google if its algorithms were published."

    Bad people game Google all the time anyway and that's why it's such a hopeless search engine.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      One word


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Another word


  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    He understood the point then.

    A fine and absolutely correct answer. It makes no difference which car you own when you approach a toll booth. However, the nice warm feeling you're getting from owning a new car may just serve to take the edge off the anger you feel when you find the bloody toll's gone up.

    In other words: "Yes, we own your sorry arse.* Try some retail therapy, you may feel better about it."

    I wonder if that's what he meant?

    *A spokesman for a more evil company might laugh out loud here. But not Google, oh no. This should be read as delivered in a sympathetic and sincere tone.

  5. Wokstation

    Buy a new car

    It doesn't matter what car I drive, the owner of the road will still be the same...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      One word for you too...


      Ok, so it's terrible but if you don't like Google, you know what to do...

  6. Lutin

    Missing that point

    Kallen: "You own the highway."

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."


    Kallen: "But you still own the highway."

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."

    Kallen: "But that's not addressing the point I just made."

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."

    Kallen: "Why do you keep saying that?"

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."

    Drummond: "You can go and buy another car."

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Kind of dragging the point out ad nauseum...


      The response Drummond should have said was 'Go take the train.' or Go buy a plane.

      Its starting to slowly sink in that Google has a monopoly on searches and ad revenue.

      Their business model and prices work for Google because they own the market. They can make money, lots of money off slim margins because they have such a large volume. No one can compete. They can also switch the number of ads on a page while still charging the same rate to the advertisers.

      (And if you complain, what can you do?)

      Google's mantra is 'do no harm', but if you're a psychopath, who doesn't know or can't distinguish 'right from wrong', at what point does your mantra and your mental state of mind clash?

      The truth is that Google doesn't own the highway. Or rather they just own one of the highways.

      There are others and while its incredibly expensive to build a highway which people want for free, there are other options.

      I'm not saying we should all bow down and pray to the Chocolate Factory 'ghods', but that unless you (the collective governments of the Western worlds) are willing to legislate google or sue them for anti-competitive/anti-trust actions, your alternative is to build out your own super highway and cut them off.

      Of course the Google el33t know this and are programatically selling off some of their stock, all in the name of portfolio diversification. Don't cry for them, they're smart and if they invest it right, they'll still be bizillionaires .

      1. cd


        The mantram is "Don't Be Evil", which was coined for them by a consulting group mostly composed of ex-tobacco lobbyists and ad-men. Believing it has any guiding weight is obviously stupid.

        Do No Harm is the Hypocritical Oath that doctors say and quickly forget.

      2. Ben 42

        Pedantically speaking...

        Google's mantra is "Do No Evil". "Do No Harm" is just Hippocratical.

  7. Chris Beach

    Better Highway

    The other point that gets missed is that Googles 'Highway' is better than the others for consuemers too, in fact more like the German Autobahn.

    Personally I see that most of the whinging against Google comes from two camps: Corps who act slower than Goolge and then complain when Google comes in, does their job better and faster. The 2nd bunch are the privacy, and legal 'experts'.

    Only the 2nd have anything relevant to say, and the various Governments and regulators need to balance the laws so that services like Maps, Voice etc can be provided, but certain privacies are respected and laws amended (for the modern age)

    The first though can go swivel...who cares if Google is destroying your business model, adapt or die.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Anyone who knows anything about databases and search engines would laugh in your face. Google are the new MS in this sense: their stuff is actually significantly inferior to the technology supplied by a lot of other databases and search engines but, because they've reached that critical mass of 'popularity', it is difficult for that other tech to compete with them.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You're not an adsense user...

      ...if you were then you would clearly understand how dominant Google is and where all those concerns are coming from.

      As an advertiser you have no choice but to use Google if you want traffic. Then you have no visibility on how they're calculating what they're charging or whether you're being charged for the same visitor twice etc.etc.

  8. Graham Marsden

    Google "owns" the motorway...

    ... which most people drive on.

    Others may own the A Roads and B Roads, but they get less traffic because Google pretty much has a hammer-lock on the easiest route.

    Buying a new car won't change this.

  9. Daniel Hutty

    Arguments based around mixed metaphors

    As Mr Gumby above suggested, Drummond's response was wrong for Kallen's metaphor.

    A more accurate one might have been "there are other highways, people just like prefer driving on ours". But that sounds less snappy.

    Possibly a better analogy (for UK readers) would be one of the various rail routes out of London where you have the choice to make a journey in one of Mr Branson's shiny Virgin trains, or a train from a different provider (i.e. more than one provider can get you from A to B).

    Some might prefer the Virgin trains (newer, shinier, faster), some might prefer the others (stop at more places en route besides the maor cities, so might get you closer to home).

    The point is, there's a choice. There's more than one company providing a comparable service (train travel/internet search) on the infrastructure (the same rail line / The Internet) Just because one company gets more custom than another, is no reason to start shouting "monopoly". Google does not own the Internet; it does not "own the highway".

    On many lines in the UK, you have only one train operator, hence no choice - if you want a ticket from A to B, you pay company X, or don't take the train. That's a (limited, local) monopoly.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Overly generous I think

      We all know that the Internet belongs to no one. Most of us also know that creating a service like GoogleAds is an expensive and time-consuming endevour.

      GoogleAds exists, and more than 6 advertisers out of 10 choose it in preference to other providers.

      In that sense, Google has created a well-trodden path of least resistance, and it does indeed own it.

      So, in fact, from the advertiser's point of view, there is precious little choice to be had. Either you accept Google's Ts & Cs, or you miss out on 60% of your potential audience.

      That does not sound good to me, and I find normal that somebody steps up to the plate to say something about it.

      Then again, it does make me think that perhaps Bing is not too late to the market after all. Or even that, maybe, Ballmer is the one stirring up the pot and playing it from the shadows for once.

      I mean, I don't even know any other service apart from GoogleAds that does that job. There must be some, of course, but they are not well-known to the general public.

      So Bing is probably poised to gain traction in the ad market by simple virtue of being known to the public as the Google competitor.

      Egads ! Could Ballmer have actually had an insight ? My worldview has just taken an asteroid to the chin.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Quit your whinging

    Yes, Google has the biggest petrol station on the highway, but they aren't the only station there. if you're that worried about their massive sales and the number of pumps they have, open your OWN station (search engine) and compete against them. The door is wide open to competition. Yahoo let it slip through their fingers. Microsoft let it slip through their fingers. No one else has developed a compelling competing product. DO IT! Get off yer arse and DO IT!

  11. Moony

    For some reason a new phrase popped into my head

    "Going down the Googler"

  12. Lucky2BHere

    And the problem is what?

    So a company develops a useful product people are actually getting value from. The other companies in that space aren't doing as good a job. So, people don't use them. It's called a free market, and it works.

    Don't like 'em, don't use 'em. Have other ideas?, bring them to market and stop complaining. Google - like Microsoft, Cisco and so many others - was a darling when it was an up-and-comer. Success breeds contempt; nothing new there.

    Stop complaining and get to work. You, too, Anonymous Coward. Go waste time someplace else.

  13. ZenCoder

    Google is the new microsoft ...

    Google has reached such market dominance that companies can rise and fall based on their decisions. No matter what your relationship with them you have to play by their rules.

    When grow to be a giant you can't help but step on people.

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