Is this a conflict of interest? Absolutely! Let’s face it – Google is now in the SEO business – selling services through DoubleClick’s Performics to people who want to rank well on search engines, including Google. This also places Google in the paid inclusion business, something it called evil back in 2004, when it went public.
Danny Sullivan has written an open letter to Google asking them to do the right thing – namely to spin off Performics as they should not own such a company. Danny writes, “Larry, Sergey, Eric, Google! Please do the right thing and make this a priority.”
He goes on to explain why Google needs to get rid of it in which all reasons can be summarized in this statement:
Even if Performics is kept completely separate from the Google search team, there’s the impression that Performics might have some special “in” with Google’s non-paid search results. After all, Google owns it!
What is going to happen when Performics’ customers rank well in Google? There will be a lot of accusations and finger pointing for sure. The best thing Google can do in my opinion is to simply release the company to go on its own. After all, Performics is hardly the reason why Google wanted DoubleClick in the first place. So why keep it or try to profit from it by selling it off?
Danny’s open letter clearly states that he is disappointed in the fact that Google has yet to asses the fact that Performics poses such a huge conflict to own and urges immediate action to disassociate themselves with the company. I whole heartily agree and will be watching this situation closely.