Friday, April 18, 2008

Oogling Google's performance

Kind of fun to see Google defy the worry-warts by posting better than expected results for the first quarter yesterday—profit rose 30 percent from a year earlier, and revenue rose 42 percent. What I've been wondering is whether Google's performance can be seen as a bellwether for the online advertising category as the country heads into a possible recession. The thinking has gone—at least from those with rose-tinted glasses—that online advertising will continue to expand in a downturn, because its accountability will make it a safer investment, but I remember a similar argument back in 2001, when the dot-com bubble burst. Instead, advertisers turned to the tried-and-true. Granted, the medium has come a long way in terms of proving its worth since that time, but on the other hand, to get back to Google, its revenue comes from the most accountable of online media. Will its success in an economic downturn, carry over to other forms of online advertising? Despite the soundness of the accountability argument, I think it's hard to say. There are still a lot of advertisers out there for whom digital media is considered edgy, making some retrenchment possible.

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