As Google progressed, several improvements came up. The now famous Google Doodle – an image that appears in the Google homepage to signify an important event or to honour a person – started out as a signal to employees that Brin and Page were away. When Brin and Page went to a party called Burning Man, they left an image of a burning man in the homepage to signal to employees that they were away. After this, they experimented with replacing the two O’s of Google with Halloween pumpkins, to signify the festival of Halloween. It was an instant hit with Google’s users. Since then, the logo is often decorated with a doodle to signify or honour important occasions/landmarks/persons.
Google started recruiting people for specific roles. There was an employee dedicated to making doodles, and another to polishing and improving user design. Significantly, they recruited Dr.Jim Reese of Harvard to manage operations. His responsibility was to ensure that Google’s burgeoning hardware requirements were consistently met. Since Google saves a lot of money by buying usa consumer email database free download cheap computers and assembling them themselves, it was important that they be maintained, monitored and managed properly. To ensure reliability, Dr.Reeves spread data over several computers, managed them all from a central system, and used redundancy to insure the company against system crashes. By minimizing hardware costs, and using free to use Linux based operating systems over expensive ones like Windows, Google had earned for itself a major cost advantage.
Google got more and more popular. It won the support and admiration of Danny Sullivan, editor of an influential newsletter focused on Internet search. It had built for itself a very loyal user base that gave feedback on even the slightest of modifications to the site. However, it had yet to come up with a way of making money.
At that time, a company called Overture caught Brin’s attention. Overture was the company that provided the search results that accompanied searches of Yahoo and AOL, among others. The Google guys liked the idea of having ads based on search, rather than flashy and distracting banner ads. However, there was one practice of Overture’s that they did not approve of – Overture guaranteed that if a company paid a certain amount of money, it would find a place among the advertisements. It went directly against their motto of ‘Don’t be evil’.
They decided, therefore, to go it alone. They developed an algorithm for search-based advertising on their own. True to their motto, they ensured that there was a clear demarcation between the actual search results and the advertisements. Like the search results, the advertisements, too, would be ranked. The ranking of the advertisements would be based not only on the amount of money paid, but also on the number of times it is clicked. Hence, popular ads would appear more prominently.
Prices for Google’s ads were fixed through a nonstop auctioning process. Auctions were done for every search phrase. A phrase like ‘investment advice’ would cost a lot more than a phrase like ‘pet food’. Companies started having dedicated employees to carry out Google auctions. There were several subtleties involved. For instance, ‘digital cameras’ would be auctioned for a higher rate than ‘digital camera’, because a user googling ‘digital cameras’ is more likely to buy one.
Google advertising policy was not without its share of problems. Once, an insurance company named Geico filed a lawsuit against Google, on the grounds that it had allowed other companies to bid for its name. A user searching for ‘Geico’ would see in his results all insurance companies that had made a winning bid for it. Geico claimed that Google did not have a right to let Geico’s competition take advantage of searches on its name. Google’s defense was that Geico’s understanding of consumer behavior on the Internet was incorrect. A user googling ‘Geico’ is not necessarily looking only at Geico’s website. Besides, Google was not the publisher of the ads, and it also had systems in place to protect trademarks. It did not allow ads to contain trademarks in their heading or text. Google ended up winning the case.
It has also been alleged that Google’s naming of the advertisement section ‘Sponsored Links’ misleads many users. Many users confuse ads with actual results, and click on them without even knowing they are ads. The ethicality of this lack of clear distinction has often come under question.