Here's the article if your interested...
And the picture of what we're talking about:
Quotes from and responses to the article:
"How much influence does Google have in terms of driving the news?"
Google is HUGE and therefore whatever it does IS news. Google is not supposed to be some non-biased journalist. And Google News isn't a reporting platform, just a culling of reports from other news organizations as a courtesy to its visitors. It is first and foremost a search engine and a software solutions provider. So to answer your question, Google should drive the news if only to inundate the internet with buzz about itself for profit's sake.
"[Google doodle as advertising]"
I say more power to them. I don't think it'll happen though. Google's been around long enough with their own ad agency and have yet to exploit their vanilla homepage as such. If they ever did, it just might be enough to make people switch search engines to Bing or at the very least stop clicking on the doodle.
"But the Google doodle could also be used to advance a political cause as well."
And why couldn't it? Google has the right to free speech just like anyone else. The de facto line is drawn at the point where they start offending/turning-off a large part of their customers/users. Hence it would be bad for business to hard-line such a divisive subject.
"But what if the Google doodle were to be used for more commercial purposes? Would it be a source of controversy?"
What isn't a source of controversy today? Everyone readily vomits out their approval or disapproval about someone else's doings. I don't see why this should be any different.
"Would it give an unfair advantage to those who could afford to pay for it?"
This one actually made me laugh out loud. This question alone reveals the Marxist views of the article's author. To believe that you've done something inherently unfair by purchasing more avenues of opportunity to solidify business profitability is downright diabolical. As the downtrodden masses, unable to successfully make use of the equal opportunities this country provides, should we also demand the abolition of Super Bowl advertisements on the same grounds? And if you'll indulge me... In response to an accusation of unfairness, David Bowie replies in The Labyrinth, "You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is." Because someone has worked hard and become successful while the rest of us are still in the struggling phase leads the disaffected to declare that some injustice has befallen them. That this is in some way unfair. That we should all attain success together and anyone showing premature promise should systematically be punished or maligned. This idea takes focus off of its proper place, the one. The minute one stops focusing on betting their own situation to take note of others around them, the differences becomes obvious. If the difference seems insurmountable this observation easily leads to envy and a desire to "even the odds" through any number of legal or illegal means. This further breeds the socialistic attitude of equal results no matter the effort or ability.
"Could it create a situation where Google could be accused of advancing a personal agenda?"
Do you call it an accusation of advancing a personal agenda when Coca-Cola comes up with some new marketing plan to net new profits? Or just damned fine business acumen? I bet its share holders want Google to be accused of advancing the personal agenda of maximizing profits.