Apr 21, 2009

Did Google Hack Target?!

What else could explain this, other than a rogue AdSense sales team at Google breaking into Target.com and sabotaging loyal Target customers?

Target.com allows other advertisers to compete with Target within the Target website via Google AdSense.


I am shopping patio furniture at Target.com, and right there in my results are Ads by Google, promoting patio furniture from Lowe's, Home Depot, an interesting looking domain name called "DirectPatioFurniture.com" and 3 other competitors.

Is Target so smart that they know their online customers will shop other sites, so they might as well make revenue with their own traffic through Google AdSense?

This is a very courageous strategy if it is working, and an outrageous one if it is not.

Because some person is in charge of Target.com, and I am not, I must assume they know much more than I do and are very good at marketing. Target is a brand that knows how to brand. They are a market that knows how to market. But this time, I think someone went nuts.

May this bold and/or nutty decision-maker find this post through Google Alerts, and respond with a, "Kirk, you're wrong. We're achieving more goals, profits and customers by adding Google AdSense in our website. We're going to get you as our customer anyway, you're going to shop around anyway... we love taking $5 from Home Depot every time you click their link. We love taking $6 from "LoveMyPatio.com." Because we know you are going to come back to us, in our store in your town, to purchase your new patio furniture."

If I were king of target.com, I'd probably rather keep my customers on my site. Allowing competitors to advertise on your website through Google AdSense is -- to me -- exactly like allowing Home Depot and Lowe's to put uniformed employees in your patio furniture section to guide customers away from Target for the purchase.

God knows I've been wrong a couple times before, and this may be Target pulling off some of their pure marketing genius.