eBay and Google going head to head

June 12, 2006

Topics: Google.

They’re denying it, of course, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Google and eBay are headed on a collision course. eBay is a heavy user of Google’s contextual advertising program, and are now launching their own program – AdContext. It’s a different payment model than Google’s program, based entirely on sales commissions rather than pay-per-click or impressions based payments. So, in some ways, it’s like they’re creating a huge-scale contextualized affiliate program rather than an advertising scheme. (Why hasn’t Amazon done this with their affiliate program?)

However, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to expand the program to a more general advertising audience.

At the same time, Google is looking forward to the launch of their new PayPal competitor, Gbuy. John Battelle has an interesting take on the launch – questioning whether the world is ready to trust Google with their finances:

However – and as odd as this might sound – I am not sure the world is ready to trust Google with its payments. I sense the overall cultural vibe on Google is that it’s gaining too much power.

Perhaps he’s right – there’s no question that Google will be walking into the world of online payments as a rote beginner compared to Paypal’s well-established goliath.
Regardless of Google’s preparation, they’re getting some serious press in advance of the launch, and it’s reasonable to expect that this project will need to be "ready-to-wear" – nobody will want to entrust their payments to another eternal beta service.

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