If today’s Wall Street Journal “story” “Google Gets Ready to Test GBuy, A New Online-Payment Option,” based on “people briefed on the situation,” reads like a souped up version of Google’s own press release, perhaps that is Google’s intention.
Google’s apparent strategy to pre-release the news of its GBuy launch via a seeming “exclusive” given to The Wall Street Journal, follows a strategy recently employed by Google for the announcement of its redesign of “Google U.S. Government Search.”
According to Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch:
It’s hard not to see the updated US government search service as a way to attract government workers and insiders to a place where Google can influence them. Google ultimately controls the personalized home page and can choose to insert material on it any time it wants. That's a powerful tool if many people involved with the government start tuning into the page.
Certainly giving the Washington Post an exclusive on breaking the news helps fuel the idea that Google's doing a push along these lines. The Post is the only media outlet to have been prebriefed on the release, that I can tell. That helps ensure the story gets good play, plus causes competing print media outlets to give the story a second day of coverage doing catch-up stories. Of course, the Post also gets prime space on the new site, as well. That probably won't please some competing political news publications.
Additionally, all first-day tertiary coverage relies solely on the information presented via the singular “exclusive” story in a publication Google deems to be “Google-friendly.”
Today, even Reuters news service finds itself having to run the headline: “Google's online pay service to test this week: WSJ” and its meager seven line coverage merely reiterates a few phrases via “The Wall Street Journal reporting, citing people briefed on the situation.”
The Wall Street Journal piece today on Google’s GBuy is, by every indication, very “Google-friendly.”
The first paragraph sets the stage for Google innovation to solve a nagging consumer “problem.”:
For years, consumers who didn't want to give Web merchants their credit-card information faced limited options when it came to making purchases online. This week, consumers could get access to another electronic-payment option -- and one that offers a mail-in rebate incentive to boot.
The concluding phrase of the first paragraph, “offers a mail-in rebate incentive to boot,” does not have an “objective reporting” feel to it.
The “story” includes a glowing “testimonial” from a would be GBuy customer that not only gives Google GBuy a pre-release stamp of approval, but disparages Google’s new competitor as well, eBay:
Chris Mario, a Damascus, Md., resident, says he "would 100% use Google payments" because he likes the company's technology. He says he uses PayPal now but would prefer using an independent third-party payment service when making some online purchases, as opposed to the PayPal unit of eBay, which runs auction and other e-commerce Web sites.
It is also surprising that an individual identified vaguely as a “Damascus, Md. Resident,” would be speaking in such a corporate manner about the nuances between the eBay-PayPal relationship and the Google-GBuy relationship and would have such a concise, corporate characterization of Google’s GBuy as an “independent third party payment service.”
It would also seem incumbent upon hard-news financial reporting to point out that much like PayPal is a unit of eBay, GBuy will be a service of Google and will be closely aligned with the interests of Google merchant advertisers fueling Google’s multi billion dollar AdWords machine.