When you work in online marketing, it’s kind of hard to not see Google as the end-all of the internet that’s even capable of killing democracy. In reality, though, they’re just another company who is completely dependent on laws and an economic system that can be changed (or even replaced) by the prevailing powers that be (like the government) at the drop of a hat bill.

Case in point: both Google and Yahoo! recently started offering their users a way to opt out of their respective targeted ads, and as Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch noted, it most likely has to do with both of them responding to fearing Congressional scrutiny over the intrusiveness of online advertising and behavioral targeting:

The truth is that both Yahoo and Google would rather take symbolic action themselves than be forced to take a more draconian one later. Who’s going to bother to opt out of ad targeting? Some people will, but the vast majority of people probably won’t. What would really mess up Yahoo’s and Google’s advertising ROIs is if Congress mandated that ad-targeting (via cookies) be opt-in. They’d surely get even fewer people opting in for those cookies than they will now get opting out. I know I’m too lazy to do either.

If users suddenly had to opt in to behaviorally targeted ads, Google and Yahoo! would pretty much be f**ked as far as revenue streams go. As Google CEO Eric Schmidt concedes, “the vast majority of [their] revenues comes from text ads.”

Laws that compromise that could be the real Google Killer. It’s hard to imagine how Google could survive such a blow long enough to find an sufficient alternative source of revenue to exist in their present form (i.e.a publicly traded company that dominates search engine marketing and is headed by Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt).

In fact, under such circumstances, we may very well see a more conventional form of corporate entity, the media conglomerate, who’s had trouble surviving because of technology companies like Google, come along and swallow it up.

Just imagine: Congress deals Google a debilitating blow, and Rupert Murdoch comes in and buys up the shattered pieces, picking up all that technology and user-data at an all-time premium low.

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