In a ‘fox meets hen house’ moment Google and Publicis announced yesterday that they would collaborate extensively to do something about something but that the resulting something would be available to competitors of Publicis.
This is a bold move indeed. Google is populated by extraordinarily smart people and this strategy reminds me of a 1950’s Sci-fi movie in which aliens take over human beings to understand our planet in advance of conquest. By fronting Maurice Levy, the CEO of Publicis, in the announcement, stage 1 ‘take me to your leader’ has been accomplished. Stage two, ‘we will populate your towns and cities with our people’ is next.
On a serious note Google has now inserted itself in the agency business in a way in which it can explore exactly how the market operates, what they can do to remove friction from that operation and (ya think?) work out how to maximize Google’s share of the value chain.
This is smart business for Google and a good press release for Publicis – ‘nous somme plus moderne’ it screams.
Is it a good move though? I am not so sure. Agencies succeed in media when they can demonstrate that it is more than a math problem and that one algorithm fits all is not the whole answer. I believe that Google can provide vital insight into the business issues of our clients but we (the agencies) must own the context in which they operate relative to the other cornucopia of solutions we have at our disposal.