Last week, Google launched Google Music “aiming to challenge the dominance of market leaders Apple and Amazon.” (Though analysts are saying that “selling online music is unlikely to provide much of a lift to Google’s revenue but it needs to be in the market to ensure that its mobile efforts based on Android can match those of competitors.”)
Today, Google’s homepage features an ad for Google Music. This self-promotion reminds us of when Google launched Google Offers and Reuters called it “a rare instance of the search giant using the prized online real estate for advertising.” Or the time Google launched Google+ with a giant blue arrow on Google’s homepage pointing to the new service.
What’s more, search for “music player,” “online music player” or “music streaming” and guess what ad pops up at the very top of the screen?
Ads for Google Music also appear on top of natural results for a number of other music-related searches. Given what we know about Google’s ad auctions, we can’t help but wonder what Google featuring its own service in such a prominent way is doing to ad prices for other online music players like Rhapsody and Pandora. One thing’s for sure: It’s probably not hurting Google’s bottom line!
All evidence suggests that Google’s practice of advantaging its own products and services by featuring them on the homepage may not be so rare anymore. In fact, Google’s strategy seems to be to use its dominance in search to favor its own product over the products of its competitors, steering users to what’s good for Google, not necessarily what is best for users.
Or, as the news reports outlining the FTC’s antitrust investigation into Google have said, is Google, “using its position in Internet search to subdue rivals in adjacent markets.”