Although Google playfully reveals how much chicken and coffee its engineers consume every month, as it did during Google Press Day last year, the company won't disclose much potentially helpful information about its core business, such as how many search queries it returns, how many companies advertise through Google and whether ad prices are increasing or decreasing.
Google's unwillingness to disclose little more than the legally required basics of how it does what it does — and where it's headed — has left advertisers puzzled, partners confused, competitors nervous and investors frustrated. Even seasoned Wall Street analysts are left scratching their heads at precisely how Google posted $6.1 billion in revenue last year...
But pressure is mounting on Google to be more forthcoming. The very secrecy that helped the company vault to the top of the media-industry pyramid — its $112-billion market value is almost as much as those of Time Warner Inc. and Yahoo combined — could backfire if advertisers and technology partners begin to support its rivals.
To help Google be more forthcoming, here are ten questions for the Google Investor Conference Call scheduled for next Wednesday:
1) Do you do more to prevent click fraud in your AdSense operations than in your AdWords operations?
2) Will you agree to reimburse your advertisers in cash, rather than in Google AdWords credits, for payments they made to you for fraudulent clicks?
3) Will you make absolute data available to the public on the exact words and phrases the public is searching on at your properties, as well the number of times the words and phrases are searched on?
4) Rather than lobbying the U.S. legislature for non-intervention in your China operations, will you stop censoring Google.cn?
5) Will you amend your mission statement to accurately reflect your profit motives i.e., Google's mission is to organize the world's information and sell ads against that information…?
6) Will you agree to cease maintaining server records, for searches and Web sites visited, with the IP addresses and browsers associated with these actions, for searches that do not yield clicks on sponsored links?
7) Will you uphold the Better Business Bureau Code of Advertising vs. a vs. transparency in AdWords solicitations?
8) Will you agree to operate under generally accepted standard business practices and provide prospective AdSense publishers with a meaningful, upfront commission schedule?
9) Will you uphold your "do no evil" slogan and, really, level the playing field for small businesses in AdWords pricing and bidding?
10) Will you agree to cease caching and repurposing Web pages, unless you obtain explicit permission from Web page owners to do so?
For details on how the ten questions for Google were formulated see:
Any other questions for Google? Join the conversation: "Talk Back" below to post your Google questions.
UPDATE "Talk Back" Contributed Question:
"What does Google intend to sell, aside from ads associated with searches?"
UPDATE II Reports on the Google Q & A, May 31:
Want to know more about Google? Read up on Google below: