When Google announced their plans in 2007 to buy DoubleClick, which included the purchase of Performics, several people within the industry considered it to be a conflict of interest. Performics is a division of DoubleClick that offers SEO, SEM, affiliate marketing, etc. With Google purchasing DoubleClick and acquiring Performics through the deal, it was sketchy how “fair” it would be to have an SEO/SEM agency be a part of the world’s most popular search engine.
One of the main concerns in the SEO area was that Performics might get special treatment and access to inside information about Google’s search-engine algorithms, something that all companies would love better understand. Performics’ SEO services also put Google in the business of taking money from clients in exchange for helping them rank better in search-engine results, which is something Google has said they will never do. On the other side of the spectrum, there was concern that Google would push the Performics SEM services at discounted prices. There was some concern that they would even be free. This would of course be unfair to other companies and agencies that are paying a premium CPC to participate within the sponsored listings on Google. Last, Performics also provides paid inclusion services into search engines that offer this type of practice. Paid Inclusion is when a company pays a search engine to include its website within its Natural listings. Google has always been highly critical of paid inclusion services, and does not offer them.
At the time of the acquisition, an article on Searchrank.com quoted Google stating that, “Performics is part of DoubleClick, and we are acquiring it as part of the transaction. We have no plans to dispose of it at this time”.
It seems that Google has changed course. On April 2, 2008, Google announced that they are splitting Performics into two separate companies: affiliate marketing and search marketing. More importantly, they are selling the search marketing business to a third party. On their official GoogleBlog, Google stated that, “It’s clear to us that we do not want to be in the search engine marketing business. Maintaining objectivity in both search and advertising is paramount to Google’s mission and core to the trust we ask from our users. For this reason, we plan to sell the Performics search marketing business to a third party. We believe this will allow us to maintain objectivity and the search marketing business to continue to grow and innovate and serve its customers. While we have not yet identified a buyer, we’ve received preliminary interest from a number of our current partners. Search Marketing will continue to run as a separate entity until the division is sold.” I am fairly confident that it will not take very long to sell the search marketing business to a third party. However, it remains to be seen who that will be. I am anxious to find out.
It seems that Google has stepped up and maintained their reputation as the search engine that everyone loves, respects, and wants to be a part of. I am not surprised that Google is selling Performics. It needed to happen in order to cease the controversy that made its way throughout the online marketing industry.