Google Checkout Details Emerge

40 comments

Google Checkout launched. Here are some of the stores that are Google Checkout enabled and here is their information for sellers.

Chris Sherman wrote a great article about Google Checkout. He highlights how it allows Google to gain end to end transaction data, and the cost structure of the release:

Google will charge merchants 20 cents and 2% of a total transaction cost to use the service—very favorable rates compared with PayPal's 30 cents and 2.9% fees (PayPal's fees scale lower with higher-cost transactions).

In addition AdWords advertisers will get $10 worth of free payment processing for each $1 they spend on AdWords.

Google Checkout will store your payment information, keep track of your purchase history, and allow consumers to rate merchants.

Sorta along the lines with a blog post I made about a year ago, Charlene Li describes the goal of this push:

"Whereas Microsoft wanted to own the desktop, Google wants the monopoly on your information," [Li] said, noting Checkout also provides buyers with a purchase history that shows where they spend their money. "I'm concerned that they could fall into a situation where they're the next Microsoft."

Google probably already has the ability to create the best commodities trading platform ever assembled, and yet they keep pushing for more market data points. How much data will people allow them to collect?

How does this launch change the search and affiliate games? Does this launch mean the days are numbered for shopping search engines? As a marketer, what types of sites would you use Google Checkout on? Which ones would you avoid using Google Checkout on?

Bonus questions:

  • Will Google have a cute error message for when they screw up your payment processing (ie: telling your customers to cross their fingers and try again in a few minutes)?
  • How long until Google gets in trouble for processing illegal prescription drug sales or kiddie porn sales?
  • If Google does not allow the government to spy through all their customer data like the telecom companies do how long until the US government states that Google Checkout is funding terrorism?

Disclaimers: I sold some of my Goog to buy some eBay shares after market close Wednesday. I own a bit of stock of each of these companies.

Comments

Today I am going to attempt

Today I am going to attempt to figure out where all this anger @ Google comes from, in daveN's and Shoemoney's case it is clear cut but in yours and others I am not sure Aaron.

To an outside observer it appears that there is an all out assault on Google by you, Danny Sullivan and others, can someone tell me why and go a little bit deeper than trying to make us believe that there is lower quality SERPS today?

There is a whole lot of anger in the room and it is just not making much sense to me, maybe because I have only been paying attention sinse 2003?

Thank You!

I have only really been on

I have only really been on the web since about 2003 too (other than buying a few baseball cards on eBay when I was 19).

first, hopefully I do not see this screen too much http://www.threadwatch.org/images/google-checkout-error.png

It is not about trying to make you believe anything. It is about visualizing things as they are. I just think they have went a bit far with trying to stop spam to where the results are irrelevant.

The succeeded largely because smart marketing, but also because there was real follow through. Many of the serps are getting stale hollow and irrelevant.

Now as to the other points I mentioned my last bonus question was a compliment to Google for telling the US government to fuck off on a recent bogus powergrab. The first two bonus questions deal with problems Google has recently had in other areas.

The series of questions above the bonus questions were all just honest questions to fellow marketers. Not pissed or happy or anything...just things that crossed my mind.

Well I know for sure a "low

Well I know for sure a "low quality serp" is a weak claim so it makes me believe there is more to this story than is being told.

AND don't get me wrong, I am a struggling webmaster who has been frustrated with Google often but today there is much improvement and if you are not spam you can only succeed.

The power grab is scary and needs to be monitored for sure but the serps?

Please give examples with links.

Hm. I'd say that in general,

Hm. I'd say that in general, webmasters have been pretty pro-Google for quite a while. However, a little more research might help you shed some light on your question; I'd enumerated quite a few on my blog but I'll just touch on a few ... and bear in mind that it isn't just Aaron or Danny or webmasters anymore:

- Google Toolbar autolink, where Google wanted its toolbar to add or replace links on websites visited by people with the toolbar installed in their browsers - Walter Mossberg WSJ article, NickW post

- Then there was the whole thing with Google wanting to make text from books available online, without permission from or payment to authors, getting not only authors but librarians up in arms.

There have been so many Google treading-on-toes issues in the last year. The Business Week article covers quite a bit.

Low quality serp? Anyone?

Low quality serp?

Anyone?

The big issue I see here is

The big issue I see here is privacy - Google has such a comprehensive presence online that users and businesses should be rightly concerned about signing up confidential data to a third-party who can use that data for other commercial purposes.

I don't think we've seen anything from Google for a couple of years now which couldn't be argued to have collection of user data as a prime concern.

Big Brother it may not be, but Google is Watching You - and doing everything it can to watch more closely.

I think most individuals should have a right to control just how extensively this data is controlled and used beyond immediate purposes.

2c.

seobuzzbox, I think you may

seobuzzbox, I think you may need to look a little deeper. Did you check out those articles I mentioned?

"The big issue I see here is"

As fantomaster said in another thread, it about "DATA MINING"

Totally. They not only have

Totally. They not only have end to end user date from each transaction, they know who each person's friends are. And, what they talk about in email. And what web sites they visit.

This is huge.

Low quality

Low quality serp?

Anyone?

there were plenty of hints given in that other thread about that issue. if you were unable to find anything from that information odds are you wouldn't notice anything if the SERPs smacked you in the face, and reporting spammy serps on a serp by serp basis turns us into outing.com where we debate what is and isn't spam. fuck that :)

Not a beta

I am amazed its not in Beta - I cant remember the last time a Google product was released fully with no Beta tag!

I do agree that in the

I do agree that in the future, government will use these "concerns" you speak of to try to gain access to Google who will know all about each and every one of us. This is not a paranoid view, this is very real and again thank God for webmasters who do not buy into it all and keep a watchful eye.

BUT back to Mr. Wall, are you speaking about something going on in the highly competitive Viagra type areas where spamming used to rule? I believe that is just a result of cleaning up the libraries card catalog. Now spammers are collateral damage just as they should be, it's your turn to suffer now...

For daveN to say "we don't out spammers" on threadwatch then destroy BMW on his blog is lame.

For Shoemoney to edit my posts in here because I challenge is even lamer...

For Nick Wilson to not allow me to post on Performancing.com is also extremely of funny.

Can you imagine Google doing the same?

So, I believe the more you try to convince the public Google is bad the closer we come to government actually gaining access to all their data. You think this is bad? Wait until they try to turn SEO's into "hackers" and put us all in jail.

You might be shooting youselves in the foot, I see Google's welcome mat, do you?

Off Topic

I thought this thread was about Google Checkout?

You cant be

objective if you really believe what you said:

Now spammers are collateral damage just as they should be

and this statement is absurd

today there is much improvement and if you are not spam you can only succeed.

Google could improve Checkout by at least allowing me to sync my G accounts.

You're right, Ian. My

You're right, Ian. My apologies; the thread got hijacked, and I'm sorry I followed that. (Last word: I don't do p*rn/pills/casinos; I'm a web designer who's optimized the sites we design/build for years. Seobuzzbox asked a question. Since people have different concerns, I responded; however, my input seems to have been ignored by seobuzzbox entirely in preference to making pointed comments at Aaron, DaveN. I get it; I'm off.)

DianeV you reference really

DianeV you reference really old things, I want to hear something new, but yeah sorry for hijacking the post, it was not my intention. *out*

Yes, they're "really old"

Yes, they're "really old" but part of the same picture, no?

sorry for hijacking the

sorry for hijacking the post, it was not my intention

how could it have been anything else? you even did a
for name1
for name2
for name3

Yes, they're "really old" but part of the same picture, no?

exactly. this checkout by itself would not be much of a news item. when you integrate it with all of Google's other goodies that is when it gets interesting.

back OT....
anyone sign up and using Google Checkout on their sites yet?

No, Aaron, but I'd be

No, Aaron, but I'd be curious to see how it works out.

I'm planning on signing

I'm planning on signing SearchKing up for it. I wonder if 666 is already taken as a password?

Seriously kids, from the moment it became a business, it was never about search. It was and always will be about the money.

Search is just a hook. A come on to get your eyeballs there. The ADS and conversions are all that really matter. That is just the way it has to be in the real world.

There can be little question that it is a brilliant move and just another piece of a pie that makes the windows/IBM deal that launched MS look like peanuts. These guys REALLY know how to rule the world. Smart. VERY smart when it comes to the "new" ecomomy.

It doesn't look like it's

It doesn't look like it's actually implemented as yet. I've done some searches that target the participating companies and haven't been able to turn anything up as yet.

One curious thing about that page: Do you notice how it appears that all companies are not created equal?

-16 companies get logos, all appearing prominently above the fold in 800 x 600

-16 more with coupon promos

-then the back of the pack

Makes me think there's a bit more tit for tat going on behind the scenes than what's been disclosed so far.

'For Nick Wilson to not

'For Nick Wilson to not allow me to post on Performancing.com is also extremely of funny.

Can you imagine Google doing the same?'

Um. Yeah. I can. Remember all of those SEO tools that were banned from Google?

Google says that they consume too much of their resources, but c'mon, get real.

Do they bitch if they get alot of traffic during the olympics? Do they bitch if they get a lot of traffic for example when Dick mentioned 'fact check . com' and people were off Googling to find the right domain? Do they bitch when people spend over an hour to watch a movie on their video site? C'mon. In the band width of one video, dozens SEOs if not more, could be checking their rankings. I'd hazzard to say that SEOs/SEMs probably purchase more adwords, promote Google, etc. than spending an hour neutrally watchin g 'Night of the Living Dead (1968)' on Google.

In the past Google Guy was saying 'just watch your logs'. Right. That would be like a Walmart 'just watching their receipts' (which they do) but not making sure that their ads are actually making it into the news paper, or reading the news paper for pro/negative op-ed pieces and such. So looking at one side of things just doesn't make sense. And it is insulting to have them perform the 'do as we say, not as we do' dance.

Topic topic topic

OK, I know getting this runaway thread back on the topic will be hard, but here goes...

"this checkout by itself would not be much of a news item"

That's because you're not in the ecommerce game, this is HUGE!

First offer the merchant advertising services, then it's offer then merchant payment processing, next will be the auctions or MAYBE host the merchant sites and charge rent as well. I think all this stuff going on at Google has the potentional to be a stepping stone to GStores. They've made you a place to build websites, now they have a checkout and payment processing, heading into auctions, so the logical next thing to see is GStores to compete with Yahoo/Amazon's ecommerce offering.

That's where I think it's heading, casting a very wide ecommerce net to catch a LOT of money.

Now about this new technology...

Integrating multiple store checkout and order tracking is awesome and opens up some real interesting possibilities as Google appears to be heading toward a direct assault on PayPal/eBay/Amazon etc. Order tracking and maintaining all the gateways for all the various shipping methods is a real pain and centralizing this into the payment gateway is a massive win for many merchants EXCEPT, always a double edged sword, the customer isn't returning to the merchant to check the shipping status, they're returning to Google.

If you want the real story here, I think it's Google attempting more customer retention which is brilliant, even PayPal missed the boat on this one.

Security is another good point as when a small ecommerce server gets hacked the first thing they do is install a trap to collect customer information and send it elsewhere via email, IRC, or whatever. Since Google is the only one that ever sees the credit card number then it kind of eliminates those traps by the hackers and phishers, this is a great thing.

Also, with Google at the core controlling one credit card per account, unless you have a ton of Google accounts it would really be hard for someone to defraud a merchant by sifting thru a pile of stolen cards testing them one at a time until they can find one that works. If this technology flies, and realy works well, merchants might turn to Google Checkout more and more to avoid the many ecommerce pitfalls.

Privacy?

Ha.. you don't have it already.

Payment processors already store all your data, so do the places you shop, and of course Visa/MC knows everything about you anyway and for a few bucks people can run a credit report and learn a bunch. What Google does, assuming this catches on, which would be FANTASTIC, is eliminate at least THREE levels of potential privacy violations as the current model means your data could be seen/misused by the merchant and their employees, the webhost and their employees, and whatever hackers may be lurking in the server which doesn't happen all the time but happens more often than you think.

Before you say "the data's encrypted" and that webhosts and hackers couldn't access it, think again. Either of those two can get your passwords, decrypt keys, or simply trap the data being collected or reviewed and never know the passwords. I don't mean to panic people, it's all reasonably secure, but webhosts aren't bonded, nor their employees and we sure know hackers aren't. Ecommerce security is mostly an illussion assuming your server isn't breached and you trust where you host but that's a whole 'nother thread.

However, unless Google offers a way for merchants to contact customers with a direct email service, that option to keep your email address private could be very problematic for some merchants losing revenue not being able to junkmail customers and a serious hindrance to their willingness to adopt this technology.

examples

seobuzzbox check out this thread at TW for some fun examples.

Google is our savior

Yeah, sure Bill. Putting all of our private data into one repository eliminates multiple layers of privacy violations. WTF? If that were true, why would we have so much trouble with identity theft? There are only 3 credit "bureaus" and millions of breeches every year? You can buy a ss# for $40 online with little trouble, or $50 at your nearest independent cell phone kiosk (shhhh...).

I recommend everyone spend $40 and buy their own "reports" from the online data brokers (not the credit bureaus, but places like Intelius). Yes, they will get rich, but so too you will be enlightened. And after you do through all the steps to have your details removed, only to see them re-appear magically a month later (with zero accountability for anyone) you will be ever more "enlightened". It's never to late to start stuffing your account with erroneous "evidence" of your relocation to zimbabwe, your second divorce, or your pending Rolls purchase.

The saving grace of GBuy and GCart or G-Credit or whatever is Googles refusal to get along with anybody. As long as they are lone mavericks on the web, they can be avoided. Once they start getting along with VISA and the likes, well...

Typical

I discuss how eliminating multiple points of vulnerability is a good thing and John has to claim it's not true.

John, did you ever work in ecommerce?

Do you have the local FBI number on your speed dial?

As a matter of fact, when was the last time you helped the FBI trace CC fraud?

I'll hazard a guess never which is a lot less than I have, so perhaps once you should defer judgement to someone that was on the frontline of ecommerce since '96 which predates most, if not all, of the payment gateways that currently even exist. Not trying to over shout you, but I spent a solid 8+ years in dealing with secure transactions, payment gateways, and helping hacked customers on crappy vulnerable hosts figure out what happened, bow many CCs were compromised, where they went, how to secure the place, etc., so this is somewhat of my area of expertise.

Doesn't mean I think everyone should use Google, but we could sure use a few more solutions like GCart and thats for damn sure.

BTW, if I said the background color of TW was WHITE I'm sure you would say it was BLACK or BLUE.... ;)

subject that has junky serps

here is an example
http://www.vbulletin-faq.com/forum/showthread.php?t=836
although some other ones are far worse, but I can't out those serps

yoda fire. yoda flame

an eBay blogger calls Gbuy garbage:

I find it amusing how the general media is claiming GBuy will be a significant competitor to Paypal based on GBuy having near zero buyers actually using the service vs over 100MM using Paypal.

Without that community base, GBuy is simply Greenzap with a 'better' (more evil?) seller proposition...

serps?

This isn't about SERPs at all seobuzzbux, it's about a payment system operated by Google.

Google does all kinds of other things than providing SERPs. So, please keep SERPs out of this discussion

-----------------------
(oh, I see others have already said that :-)

Canadians need not apply

and the rest of the world for that matter...

sigh

Quote:
I discuss how eliminating multiple points of vulnerability is a good thing and John has to claim it's not true.

No claims, Bill. Just wondering, when that backup tape with 80,000 social security numbers got "lost", it was a problem because everyone's ss# was stored in one place, with one point of attack, no?

I have to admit, Bill, I don't have any FBI numbers on my speed dial. That's not one of my success metrics. However, I do know that where there is trust, there is an exploit. And where there is profit, there is motive.

Quote:
..so perhaps once you should defer judgement to someone that was on the frontline of ecommerce since '96 which predates most, if not all, of the payment gateways that currently even exist.

Oh, let's not go there, ok? You want me to show respect for the guys who built the systems we have working for us today? The ones that tell everyone to do their banking on the web because it is "secure"? The ones who built us this "better future"? Hah. Best leave it alone, Bill.

Quote:
BTW, if I said the background color of TW was WHITE I'm sure you would say it was BLACK or BLUE.... ;)

Nah. It's not usually what you say, Bill, but more the way you say it. No worries. The world needs you, too :-)

You love to twist

You want me to show respect for the guys who built the systems we have working for us today?

How did I say or imply that?

As a matter of fact, I'm quite sure I was saying they were ripe with issues.

That's why I said something of the nature of GCart has a good chance to close many of those holes.

when that backup tape with 80,000 social security numbers got "lost", it was a problem because everyone's ss# was stored in one place, with one point of attack

One of my old customers did about half that many customers a month. One time there was a hole in Linux that took Redhat a week to patch and sure enough the hackers hit before the patch came out and they lost the whole batch. They never listened to me before about wiping orders daily as they downloaded them, but it only took one time to really get burned to pay attention. The point being, having it spread out leaves a lot of vulnerabilities opposed to one.

I think Google, of all people, has enough resources that they should be able to secure and harden a site better than anyone, and if they can't they deserve to lose this business model. Better than whoever from wherever trying to harden individual sites, that much is for sure.

To be honest, with all the rules Visa/MC has set up these days about hardened servers and the types of fines they can level against your company if you mess up, I'd much rather let one of the big dogs take all that risk and not worry about getting bankrupted over one hacker.

Lets compare securing ecommerce to securing the boarders of a country, it's easier to secure a narrow boarder than a wide one, the narrower the problem the easier it is to put resources on solving it.

I don't think the privacy

I don't think the privacy issue is really about reducing points of vulnerability - the concern is how the data can be spread about and applied in different commercial ways without either direct consumer knowledge or consent.

Sure, processors collect a lot of data already - but unless I'm very naive, those processors aren't then sharing that data directly with other merchants and advertisers, all to help them chase me up for further advertising.

It's not the data collection itself I see as an issue of concern - it's simply Google's comprehesive range of services where this data can be re-used without real regard for the privacy of the users.

On a different note - we've all heard the horror stories about how Paypal can close accounts and keep the cash - even for legit businesses.

It'll be very interesting indeed to see how Google deals with this issue, and whether we're going to see user complaints build up from merchants and consumers about accounts lost or deleted, and monies being held from ecommerce merchants. Bad publicity in the making?

Give me that data on a CD and I'll take a look at it

Quote:
In early May, a laptop was stolen in a routine burglary from a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who had taken the computer home to work. The computer included identifying information for 26. 5 million veterans and active-duty National Guard and reserve members.

Oops. I accidentally left that CD with 26.5 million social security numbers on it in my laptop. Sooooooorrrrrryyyy!

In saner times, that ss# negligence would be a treasonous act. Any honest spie will admit that personal financial data on 26 million active and retired US military is worth a fortune. Instead of talking about how hard we track down hackers charging extra adult site memberships to unsuspecting consumers, we should be looking at how we might hold the commercial data carriers to a higher standard than "Say sorry. Say you won't do it again. Fire the clerk."

Quote:
The laptop was recovered nearly a month later, after being turned over to the FBI by an anonymous person. A forensic examination conducted by the FBI found no evidence that anyone had accessed Social Security numbers or other data on the equipment.

There's the necessary illusion. They found no evidence, because there would not be any evidence. I suppose they found no evidence that a Linux Live CD had been used to extract the data off the hard drive? The very fact that someone turned it into the FBI is the evidence that it was in posession of someone who knew the value. The FBI people looking at this laptop were self-professed data forensic experts. They obviously use those same tools as I do. They can do it without leaving evidence. This statement is a sham.

Hey Bill, how about using that vast knowledge and experience you have to help wake up the public on this issue? You can even promote GCart if you like... point out very specifically how it makes things better, and what the vulnerability points are, and where the human factors come into play. The best defense is a good offense, eh?

secondary but convenient source : http://nwanews.com/nwat/News/42331/

Paypal closing accounts

Paypal can close accounts and keep the cash - even for legit businesses.

That can just about happen to any merchant, regardless of Paypal.

If the credit card company thinks a transaction is a fraud they can lock the transaction for weeks while sorting it out and your funds remain in limbo.

Additionally, if they determine your business is too vulnerable to fraud, like electronics, they can demand that money be help in escrow to cover fraud, and if you can't afford to pay that escrow amount they'll just collect it from all your sales until you've paid the CC company what they want.

One ecommerce business I was involved with did a decent volume and they suddenly decided they wanted $25K in escrow.

Besides, the real problem with Paypal itself is it's NOT a bank account yet people are stupid enough to leave money in the account without transferring it out which is very risky in the event they lock it. Same thing with a business merchant account, if someone tries to defraud you with a chargeback, they can hammer your account, so I transfer most of the funds out of my merchant account just in case someone tries something stupid.

CD

I don't think this is quite the same as I doubt people @ Google are allowed to take private data off premises, that issue was just silly with the laptop.

Anyway, one of the last things I saw before getting out of ecommerce blew my mind in that someone, obviously trying to hurt a competitor, was running a script over SSL that was doing nothing but submitting bogus transactions which racks up gateway fees for every attempt @ $0.25 per transaction.

What people forget is most payment systems consider a "transaction" any call to the gateway and whether it succeeds or fails it's still a transaction.

4 attempts is a dollar, 40 attempts is $10, you see where this is going...

Some of the gateways now block repeated attempts per IP but these idiots used an endless list of proxy servers so that feeble attempt by the payment processor to stop it was useless.

I think GCart would stop this problem as well since it's tied to a Google Account.

FWIW, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay and Paypal are just as big a privacy concern IMO but it's just not as fun as Google bashing, eh?

not as fun as Google bashing, eh?

gee bill, you are proposing one world processor here singing the virtues of a largely untested system put together by super humans . G$$G will have the same problems every other processor has but they are way behind in real world application, given their weak history in launching anything close to "finished" or "secure" I doubt that G is going to be a solution of choice for many people.

Just another "me too" product thats late to the game. j/k here but are you getting paid for these commentaries? If not, you should. :)

Let's see where it heads in the coming months, my guess is another it's another yawn.

I think it is at best

I think it is at best foolish to assume that using end users as unpaid staff is a dumb business model.

Who wouldn't want to involve users as testers to get free work while also getting free marketing and setting up a sense of brand patriotism?

It also helps to look at Google's role as an authority system and the trust they have built up before discounting their new releases or brand extension.

google!=security

I think Google, of all people, has enough resources that they should be able to secure and harden a site better than anyone, and if they can't they deserve to lose this business model. Better than whoever from wherever trying to harden individual sites, that much is for sure.

Uh, huh. They have a stellar security record in past product launches. Whether or not they labelled it as a beta. To this day, google groups is labelled beta.

Moving it away from box a to box b does not improve the situation in any way. Google has isp's, their isp's have employees, Google also have employees. Many of their servers are in cages made out of chicken wire. And their isp's point out the location to impress the other clients. A pair of wire cutters pretty well gains you physical access to a choice of boxes, and likely the backend network. One more network cable would never get noticed. Then you can work at your leisure after leaving the facility. The situation for box b is no different than the situation with box a. It's just a bigger, richer, better publicised target.

I've been in the business just as long, doing much the same things. I don't have anyone on the speed dial. If they want me they'll wait out the busy signal on my single line.

Does anyone at Google even remember bench checking source code? I just put up a program where the modifications had been bench checked over the last three days. And there was *still* an error. Minor, not in the program, but an interfaced procedure, but an error nonetheless.

Wish they *had* released as a beta. I was hoping to use my *beta* credit card :)

BTW, how is *G* going to handle chargebacks? Ignoring a bank you owe money to is kinda harder than ignoring a platinum adwords account holder. Should be funny if they point the bank at an faq or send a canned response.

Do they have the bench strength to do this?

Properly?

They couldn't even add up the number of shares properly before the ipo. Remember that?

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