Google Gives Signs of a Brighter Day(Economy) 1

By Kyle Austin

The economy and the “idea” of being in a recession are on everyone’s mind. You don’t have to flip past page one in any major daily or the cover of any business publication to be reminded by it.

Although I recognize that the current economic situation is sub-par I do somewhat believe that we are talking and writing ourselves into a recession. I’m obviously not the only person that believes this. In a quick Google search I found three articles from the last two months titled or closely titled “Talking Ourselves into a Recession.” – Newsweek, BusinessWeek and Huffington Post.

At least these journalists are raising the question. Everyone else seems happy to hop on the bandwagon by finding a new negative economic story to write about every day. Yes, I realize journalists aren’t the only ones to blame. We’re all to blame. Especially us PR folk who are hoping on any angle we can spin into a recession story – sorry that’s just our jobs.

Suddenly we’ve become so glass-half-empty that I feel like I’m living a Ken Burns film on the great depression. Honestly, I’m nauseated with hearing what dire conditions we’re in. I’m tired of being told on a daily basis that I can’t afford to blow some disposable income on a weekend in Vegas or even a Sunday afternoon matinee.

I own a miniscule amount of stock (none of the company’s listed in this story) and yet I’m constantly thinking more about the stock market’s collapse then the Celtic’s first round playoff match-up. So much so that I had yesterday – April 17th circled on my calendar. No it wasn’t my Mom’s birthday or even another Red Sox vs. Yankees series. It was Google’s Q1 earnings call.

Why was it so important? Well for one there was a lot of stock in that call and I’m not just talking about Google’s stock. If there is one company that has become a measuring stick for where the economy is right now – it is Google. When comScore made numbers public in early Q1 that advised that Google’s paid clicks, which measures how often Internet users click on its text ads, were essentially flat – Wall Street nearly threw in the towel. If Google can’t continue to stay strong in the current economic conditions, then nobody can they said. (Translation = We are all in a damn recession).

So yesterday was a big day, not only for Google to fire back at comScore (A Red Sox vs. Yankees type rivalry is brewing there) but also for those of us who would like to avoid the negative talk for once and point to some positive numbers. Google wasted no time addressing “their” updated numbers on paid clicks to open up the call. Google’s paid clicks were up 20% from a year ago. That was a far cry from the 1.8% growth rate for the first quarter that research firm comScore had reported. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt took even less time to summarize those numbers:

“It’s clear to us that we’re well-positioned in 2008 regardless of the business environment,” Schmidt said. “Paid click growth has been higher than speculated by third parties.”

Yi-Wyn Yen at Fortune runs through the rest of the numbers here:

“Google regained investors’ confidence after it reported profits that rose 30% to $1.31 billion, or $4.12 per share. Its total revenues of $5.2 billion, which includes ad sales it shares with partners, grew 42% from the same period a year ago. The stock shot up 17% in after-hours trading Thursday and rose above $500 mark for the first time since Feb. 22.”

Kevin Delaney of the Wall Street Journal, who set the stage for the importance of yesterday’s call with a preview on the front page of the Marketplace section, followed up today on the front of the Marketplace section once again with this lead-in sentence:

“Google Inc.’s go-go era apparently isn’t over.”

I for one will take the positive news in stride. In addition to Google: eBay, Intel and IBM all posted positive earnings this week. Yes, I understand a lot of this is being accredited to each of their strong presences in international markets (Skype unit in eBay’s case), but I’ll take it as a glass-half-full nonetheless.

So this weekend spend less time counting your pennies and a bit more time enjoying the nice weather (nice for once on the East Coast, which I assume means it’s nice everywhere else).

Google is “Google” once again and all is well in the world.

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