Google And DoubleClick: Shareholders Win, Salespeople Lose, Clients Can't Complain (Too Much)

This week, we heard from disgruntled former employees and dissatisfied clients who told us Google’s $3.1 billion DoubleClick merger has not worked.

We’ve always viewed the DoubleClick buy as one of Google’s best, so the sudden flurry of hate surprised us.

Digging a little deeper, we reached a source close to senior executives at Google and DoubleClick, an executive at one of Google’s top clients, and an official Google spokesperson.

We learned that Google-DoubleClick has been:

  • A rousing success for Google shareholders.
  • A bump in the career path for many DoubleClick sales and support people.
  • A boon for former DoubleClick engineers.
  • A mild disappointment for DoubleClick clients who, at the same time, can’t imagine taking their business anywhere else.

We learned that Google is very eager to eradicate this disappointment.

An executive at one of the top holding companies told us:

  • The people Google’s replaced DoubleClick service reps with “haven’t been nearly up to snuff.”
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, service is a 5 or 6.
  • Nobody is actually going to switch, due to pricing alone.  “Google and MSFT can undercut anybody they want in terms of rates — and they do.”
  • Atlas remains a “far worse” alternative. “Microsoft hasn’t done a damn thing with it.”
  • “Product road maps are extremely vague and non-fulfilling.”
  • DoubleClick analytics reporting remains “archaic.”
  • It feels like Google has invested some in the product, but not enough. “There was a significant advance made by Google last year, the first one in 8 years. It was a re-skin. The back-button works now. “
  • There’s an industry-wide fear that “Google has their own agenda in terms of wanting to roll out their own tools, change the process.”

A source close to senior executives at Google and DoubleClick said:

  • SAI is hearing from bitter employees. People who are happy don’t take the time to write novels about why they’re happy.
  • DoubleClick engineers and product people are doing well at Google. They are the people running Google’s display business.
  • DoubleClick sales and support people are not doing well at Google. From Google’s POV they don’t matter as much.
  • Clients get unhappy because “there’s a level of built-in and permanent unhappiness among ad-serving clients. You’re serving a standardized thing to people who think their business is special.”
  • Clients are unhappy because they don’t feel like they have a viable alternative. Microsoft has nuked Atlas.
  • Google spent $3 billion on DoubleClick and it will do $2 billion in revenue this year. The deal is working.
  • Google is investing plenty in the product. They just bought Teracent.
  • Google is a bit behind real-time optimizers like AppNexus and Media maths, but it’ll probably buy or build a competitor eventually.

A Google spokesperson told us:

“Input from agency clients about their product needs is a huge part of our product design process. We’ve consulted with all the agency holding companies – and dozens of other clients –  ahead of all of our DFA upgrades.  If this person wants to call us, or join these meetings, we’d love his feedback.  Over the past 12 months, Google has put enormous resources into updating and innovating the buy-side platform for agencies. Our innovations in this area include:

  • Our next-generation DFA system (“DFA6”) which includes a much faster and easier-to-use work flow, the industry’s only webservices API, and numerous new trafficking features;
  • Integrations with billing systems Donovan and MediaBank;
  • A fully realised creative workflow solution for rich media, the DoubleClick Studio;
  • The beta release of a brand new reporting solution, DFA Analytics, based on the Google Analytics technology;
  • Account integration with Google Ad Planner, allowing DFA clients to share media plans and organise data according to their established business logic.  Or they can of course continue to use their existing media planning tools.”

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