Google slippage, or how to predict a decline


So analysts bashed Google stock today after seeing that pay-per-click ad revenue is slipping. We’ve noted that Google Trends shows global searches for common phrases are sliding as well, with demand down about 50% in the past four years. Seems Google is also playing with its formulas to wring more money out of click budgets — a potential sign of desperation. Google may be in decline.

Which brings up a point: Why can’t anyone see changes like this coming? Take any infatuation — AOL, Google, MySpace, Facebook, widgets, real estate, the 17th century tulip craze — and people jump in as if the ride will last forever. But the reality is almost everything in life follows a bell curve path toward the future. By the time you hear something is hot, chances are that same something is about to peak.

Look at your own life. If you work in marketing but aren’t CMO or agency president yet, you’re probably in your 30s or 40s, have rising income, good job prospects … but chances are, eventually your earnings power and title and circle of colleagues will peak, and then diminish.

In marketing, clients and agencies are always hungry for an edge, so they tend to disregard the future downward slope and leap into every bubble. We recently had the opportunity to talk with BusinessWeek.com about widgets, and the reporter mentioned that everyone who produces these things proclaims them to be the future of marketing. Uh-huh.

Don’t get depressed. Just, when planning your future, remember that what goes up must come down.

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