15 Sep 2008

Try Googling Con-man

Googling Google hits again...

Mr. Boulton, in his latest post, examines an article published over the weekend in the New York Times on Google's search advertising practices. The article is about a classic case of ad arbitrage.

I am not going to analyse the whole article here, and I am surely NOT going to link to Mr. Boulton, who is too quick to blame - as always - "the Google Monopoly".

However, he should read the NYT article again.. Especially the part where its author, Mr. Nocera, gives us the real reason of the complaint against Google:

"So what is Google’s problem with Sourcetool? One likely possibility is that Google views Sourcetool as an example of a practice called ad arbitrage, which it frowns upon. Those are sites that bid on search terms not to provide a service, but simply to con people into clicking through the ads on its site. Though nobody at Google would say so directly, I got the distinct impression that Google thought Mr. Savage was practicing a form of ad arbitrage with his site. He did, after all, bid on search terms and make his money on advertisements on his site."

Lets examine this a bit more... Who exactly benefits from ad arbitrage?

The user??? (that would be... YOU!) I'll just refer you to Search Engine Land, and in particular Brad Geddes:

"The first argument against arbitrage pleads for the user experience. The search experience is about finding answers. If a searcher is taken from a search result to a set of ads without any meaningful content, then they really didn't find any answers. The searcher now has to click on yet another ad to get to an advertiser's page. Following the logic of these arguments, if the page full of ads wasn't in the middle between the search result and the advertiser’s page, the searcher would have found the information one click sooner and had a better experience."

The advertisers? Geddes is spot-on again:

"Caught in the middle are advertisers. Advertisers often don't have insight into where their ads are being shown on partner search sites of Google and Yahoo. Once you move past search sites into the content networks, the visibility becomes even murkier.... Most advertisers find their ads on arbitrage sites by actually clicking on an ad and seeing one of these ad pages. it's the sight of their ad displayed on a page where the only content is advertising, and then the realization that their ad dollars are funding these sites..."

Which leaves us with two more contenders:

a) Google...
b) the arbitrage sites...

Now, I plead for your sense of logic on this: By stopping this practice Google LOSES MONEY, as it stops selling AdWords to the arbitrage sites. And so do the arbitrage sites (who then kick and scream about Googles... monopoly!!!)

Yet, its the user that benefits... through a better search experience...

Its Common logic Mr. Boulton... TRY GOOGLING "CON-MAN"

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