Sorrell Questions Google's Intentions | Adweek
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Sorrell Questions Google's Intentions

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When it comes to search, Sorrell noted that WPP spent about $800 million with Google, roughly 5 percent of its revenue. With most media companies, its share of revenue would be five times as much, potentially giving the holding company less leverage if Google were to start acting in ways contrary to WPP's interests.

Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, echoed many of Sorrell's concerns, no surprise in light of Microsoft recently scrapping its bid to acquire Yahoo! or at least combine with its search business.

"We think the industry is better served if there are 'n' number of players and 'n' is greater than one," he said.

Hillary Schneider, evp of Yahoo!'s global partner solutions division, reiterated that her firm remains committed to search, painting the deal with Google as part of its effort to create an open system.

"We are avidly committed to being a principal in the search marketplace," she said.

Yet, Sorrell openly wondered whether the deal creates an effective monopoly in the key search market.

He has a long history of eying Google warily, and he once coined the term "frenemy" to describe the technology giant.

On stage at Cannes, Sorrell used a new variation for the relationship between the No. 2 holding group and Google: "froes."

That view is mistaken, Digitas CEO David Kenny said in a later interview. (Publicis Groupe, parent company of Digitas, has inked a deal with Google allowing the companies to exchange employees and work together to develop systems that would make it easier to buy, target and measure online advertising.) Kenny sees treating Google as a threat counterproductive.

The aim for Google is merely to make the market more efficient and transparent. The key will be making sure it remains transparent. If there is transparency, even the Google-Yahoo! deal doesn't trouble Kenny because it would actually offer advertisers multiple ways to buy listings on Yahoo!, potentially creating a more efficient market.

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