back to article Google's riches rely on ads, algorithms, and worldwide confusion

Why did millions of money-making post-holiday clicks suddenly disappear from the world's largest search engine? It depends on who you ask. Some people blame a soft economy, insisting that Google is well on its way to piddling quarterly revenues. But Google disagrees. CEO Eric Schmidt and company claim that they planned the whole …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Google are Evil

    I had a recent discussion on this with a friend, and the only conclusion that I could come to was an evil company list - most evil on the top:




    Now, why do people get the places that they do? Google its obvious. They are an insidious monopoly. Currently highly overvalued in the market, which allows them to trick clever people to work for them for huge pay-packets and a workplace more appropriate for 3 year olds (I had a look at the new office on a BBC video and couldn't think of a worse place to work on the planet). Their market valuation is a house of cards, its based on almost exponential growth which is sure to reverse when everyone realises how badly they are being swindled with ad-words.

    Apple are the next most evil because they are the kings of lock-in. Their products aren't compatible with anything, and are specifically designed to not allow people to write their own apps. In essence, Apple are little better than Scientology: swindling the stupid out of their cash because they can; promising some religious experience as a result.

    Microsoft are evil, but at least they don't hide behind a facade. In fact I find Microsoft no more evil than your standard run of the mill monopoly. Much of their software might suck, but at least you can run other stuff on it, and the leaching of your cash is pretty explicit.

    Give me Microsoft over Google or Apple any day of the week.

  2. trackSuit

    Non-transparent -and involves money.

    The advertisers are told: "You're doing something wrong, but we're not going to tell you what it is. But keep giving us your money."

    Weasel on weasel stuff inDeed.

    Rich Ore/Data to be Smelted by method of Parallel Processing? Rather dD, n'est pas?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Wouldn't two or three pages have been enough? Or even two ot three paragraphs, starting with "Google have a monopoly, and like every capitalist with a valuable monopoly which may not last forever, they're going to make the most of it while it lasts. If you must do business with them, be sure you understand the rules (which are made up by Google to suit Google and changed when it suits Google)" (etc).

  4. Maty

    cash-sucking scumbags

    No, not Google, the wunderkids who try to game the adwords/adsense system for all they can get. We run a 'content' site under adsense and a small adwords campaign, and we've seen it all. Those people who scrape chunks off other sites and aggregate them into advert farms, those who design 'squeeze' pages with the back button disabled so unskilled users have to click the ads to get out, arbitragers, whose ads point to pages with more ads, and so on ad infinitum. Then there's click rings, MFA (made for adsense) sites, an entire circus of sleazy cheats.

    Frankly if I were in Google's fraud prevention team I'd feel I was swimming in a sea of sewage, and as an honest advertiser and publisher - who has done well with google on both counts - if playing their cards close to their chest helps Google keep the system viable, more power to them. Remember, Google has one major opt-in. No-one HAS to run Google ads. Most people who do, do so because it works for them.

  5. Mustang
    IT Angle

    No so evil

    Like Maty said, no one has to sign up to AdWords, it just works because a lot of people use google. They pay good money for people to show their ads in their sites and they keep people comming back with the quality of their search engine.

    But I repeat, no one HAS to use AdWords, AdSense or Google search. They have a monopoly for their merits and they keep the competition 2-3 steps behind. When Google stats leveraging their monopoly like MS does with Windows, I'll be the first to trow a stone.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Law and Order" mafia

    So if a big guy cracks down on little scumbags, it makes his own misbehavior ok? A lot of Mafia neighborhoods were very safe, no street crime at all.

    And the definition of a monopoly is that people *do* have to use it, or do without the service entirely (just try running a successful search-marketing campaign w/o Google!). So remarkable as the Google search engine is (and it truly is wonderful), the fact it's well-nigh a monopoly means Google has to behave even better than ordinary companies, not worse.

    At least, that's what the law says.

  7. Bob
    Jobs Horns


    This is why we need Microhoo! They may not be any less evil. But remember George Orwell: "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Fundamental flaws

    It looks like there are at least two fundamental flaws in the business model, which I'm sure will bite in the end and certainly kill the share price once they start to show:

    1. Advertising budgets are finite. There is not an endless supply of clients, or budget from those clients. Many people seem to have turned to advertising based models without necessarily realising that the pot of money has to be spread around and the more players/advertising models that are introduced the smaller the amount of money each will get. So inevitably revenues will plateau and decline.

    2. If an advertising campaign isn't delivering it will be killed. This is even more likely if the campaign costs are above projections. Google (and others) currently seem to have contempt for their clients, assuming they'll continue to pour money into the hole whatever the results that are delivered. On the basis of the details provided I can only assume that clients will drift away from Google to other methods, and this will be at an ever increasing rate as the system gets more opaque & over subscribed.

    It's probably safe to assume that as with almost all companies before them Google will eventually decline and fail. The only question is how long this will take, and what sort of businesses they'll eventually leave behind them.

  9. Paul Louth


    As of two months ago I make approximately a third of what I used to make from hosting Adsense on my site. The content is roughly the same (it's a forum), the impressions and the clicks are roughly the same, and the ads themselves all look to have a similar theme to 2 months ago.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Google just decided they wanted some more of the money for themselves. But obviously I have no way of proving it.

  10. Dafydd Lawrence

    @Fundamental flaws

    This isn't entirely true, for a few reasons.

    Of course there is a finite amount, there is a finite amount of money in the world so it is impossible to have an infinite profit showing on your end-of-year's. However a few certain parameters make this a good business model for growth.

    -The web is growing. More people are coming online, more people have faster internet connections and will continue to for a while.

    - Internet marketing is growing. More firms all the time are using the internet model to sell their goods and advertise and will continur to for a while.

    - The more that gets spent on the internet side of a company, the more money they will have. Because they are reaching a larger audience they are growing quicker than before. Therefore the more people who click on them will give them more money to spend on internet advertising which means they will/have to pay more for it.

    Look at traditional advertising - a company might start with a small ad in a local paper, as that produces results they try for local radio, get more custom, go for a national paper/magazines and with more interest they end up with TV advertising before hitting S&S to run a multi million pund campaign for them.

    However with the web, especially click-throughs there is less risk, more room for growth and better trends. It's also a lot easier to run a campaign while reducing the exposure to risk.

    It is for the time being a pretty good business model.

    As for the Google being hard to understand and scraping you for money. The problem is Google are a good salesman and they say "Not only will we give you the keywords you want but we'll automatically place you under hundreds of other relevant keywords and place you on thousands of sites throughout the world".."How much extra will that cost me?"..."Nothing Sir, that's part of the Google service".

    All you need to do is look at the options and understand what they will mean to you bottom dollar. Spend some time researching and not jump in with both feet. Although there's plenty of secrecy in the 'auction' side of things, the options aren't that complicated as long as you spend some time evaluating and then monitoring them.

  11. Ralph B

    Poor Ole Advertisers

    It's enough to make 'em turn to spam.

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge


    Google doesn't really Offer anything New, does it? It only searches through old stuff to show and sell/tempt to receive. Sort of like Trash Recycling.

  13. Chris Beach

    uh, good?

    I'm not sure I care that Google's system is complicated and possibly unfair. If your business model relies purely (either for making money, or driving visitors which make you money) on a 3rd party then you deserve to fail.

  14. Tony Paulazzo

    I tried it once last year

    for about six months, small local business with a preset spending budget, the first two or three were ok, paid for clicks, but by the sixth month Google were taking all my preset budget, and I was seeing nothing from it, so I stopped, but I still get interminable adsense 'How to make it work for you' emails from various 'professionals' in my inbox on a weekly basis.

    I still use Google - it's my homepage, but I tightened up the word search in my web pages, so I appear near the top of Google search listings which, to my mind works just as well. I know, when I'm searching for things I rarely prefer the paid ads to the right of the page anyway.

    Adclick might be okay for larger business', but for the sole trader selling services - not so much.

    Tony F Paulazzo.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ad spend greater than sales?

    Doesn't take 6 pages to explain the basics, so let's try:

    'If your ad-spend is greater than your return, then you will go bust.'

    There, that was easy wasn't it?

    Doesn't matter how clever/sneaky/underhand Google might be. Fascinating but ultimately just fluff.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worse jobs in the world...

    "I had a look at the new office on a BBC video and couldn't think of a worse place to work on the planet"

    Clearing mines in Sierra Leone

    Gravedigger in Darfur

    Sewer worker in Mumbai

    El Reg journalist

    These are all far worse jobs than working in an air-conditioned, comfortable office in the richest country in the world for one of the largest firms in the world.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "Making money is wrong"

    That was 6 pages of blaming advertisers' ignorance on Google. Why did all the people you quoted not have a clue what they were spending their admoney on?.. because they didn't bother to find out. If I buy a diesel car, but don't bother to "research" the car then is it the person who sold me the car's fault if I break it by using petrol? NO its my fault.

    Cade, sorry you don't like capitalism, but if you're going to criticise it don't do it by quoting people who clearly don't know what they're talking about.

    That said, I must agree the "Quality Score" system could be made a bit clearer, though Google doesn't have to, if you don't like it go somewhere else... no one’s stopping you.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quality = cash

    Look it's not difficult to understand.

    The 'Quality score' is a synthetic, it's actually click through rate * bid price, sorted from max to min. i.e. Google want to maximize the money, so ads that get clicked a lot but cost less, still rank highly because they MAKE MORE MONEY for Google overall.

    Likewise the minimum bid, if you can show typically 5 ads in a space and the 5th one generates say $1000 a month for Google on this query/website then the bid can't be lower than necessary to generate that $1000 to get on the 5th slot, because the current ad MAKES MORE MONEY for Google.

    They're currently adding little <> ticks to ads (left right scroll bars for content adverts) to try to create more slots so they can accept lower bids and show more ads to MAKE MORE MONEY.

    The 'Dynamic pricing' is also easy to understand, they try to minimize the price it costs to buy the ad space from the web masters while simultaneously maximizing the price that advertisers will pay for that slot in order to MAKE MORE MONEY for Google.

    The smart matching feature is the same as their search engine does, it may make mistakes but it's in their interests to fix those. Because while you may not be interested in 'mula espanaol' or whatever to match your 'mule' advert, there is a Spanish advertiser who is interested and selling to that person WILL MAKE MORE MONEY for Google.

    I think they've ringed all the money they can from the current adwords system simply by tweaking, indeed they may be paying out too little on the content ads, I've seen people switch away from Google which I guess is contributing to their current dip. However I have a few ideas on what they could do next and I bet they have too. So it's not the end of growth for them.

    As to whether Microsoft or Google is more evil, I wouldn't give Microsoft my credit card number because I'd expect to see it stolen and used in Romanian massage parlours to buy hard drugs for orphaned rent boys, during satanic rituals with corrupt politicians. On the other hand Google are OK, a little money hungry perhaps, but that's true of all companies.

  19. N1AK

    Good Article

    I'm really enjoying the longer more detailed articles The Reg has been publishing.

    It's nice to see the detail, rather than being presented with a couple of paragraphs that basically add up to "x bad, y good, I say so".

  20. David
    Gates Horns

    Google is good for the Web

    Maybe people do not realise it, but Google cheques pay website owners and this makes the owners improve their websites. Take a look at how many websites display Google ads. Even this one does.

    Without Google, smaller players would have a hard time making money for their efforts, leaving the Web to the big players like TV.

    The Web is great because it hosts all sorts for all sorts. Google in part can take credit for that and as for being evil, well I couldn't ever imaging Microsoft paying smaller players money can you?

    At least Google works well with other companies and organisations. Not like Microsoft who always place a horses head in the bed of anyone they work with.

  21. James

    Try scroogling...

    If you want to google without the various payloads try scroogle (the org is important - the com version is NSFW ).

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Duff Credit Creates Grind you Down Debt....... Be Aware

    "I wouldn't give Microsoft my credit card number because I'd expect to see it stolen and used in Romanian massage parlours to buy hard drugs for orphaned rent boys, during satanic rituals with corrupt politicians." ...... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 19th March 2008 10:01 GMT

    Don't tell me ...... Bill or one of the boys has been generous on their credit card XXXXPenses and IT's all turned to Goo rather than Go.

    A Colourful Country, Romania, ..... by every Account .

  23. Jeremy Chatfield

    It's The Search History

    There's another hidden knob, which Google has been using, and which accounts for the CTR drop - "AdWords Search History Permutation". Take the current search, and the previous search, combine each word in each query to make a new search and then find the highest paying advert for each new search. This means that consecutive searches for, for example, "cheap holiday" and "us vacation" will lead to the top advert being "Cheap US Online Shopping" - completely unrelated to the searches being performed. Bad for advertisers, bad for users, but increases Google's short term opportunity to reap cash from the highest paying advertisers. However - it will also reduce advertiser conversion rates, so it is a short term strategy, as advertiser rational response will be to drop bids on a less effective channel.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black boxes and the backlash

    Google's reputation for a 'black box' approach is starting to spread outside the industry. Google's employees (not the jet-owning ones, the ones who actually get stuff done in the UK) are infamous for not being allowed to say anything at all at industry meetings without prior official approval, and AdWords is built on a black box. It was interesting going to a recent industry conference to see that they really didn't seem aware that saying 'we can't tell you exactly how the quality score is measured, but it comes out with a number' is offputting.

    The interesting question is whether this backlash will spread to consumers; the only commodity that Google has to sell. I think their purchase of DoubleClick and their move into contextual (display) ads illustrates that they realised they were too reliant on a transient population visiting Google Search.

  25. Jeremy Chatfield

    Re; "Making Money Is Wrong"

    @James: the problem is the implicit contract, and expectation of advertisers. From 2003-2007, AdWords has taken advantage of the second price auction to set a fair price for the return. Recently, to boost revenues, Google appears to have created a false market with uninterested bidders - people advertising completely unrelated searches are conscripted by Google, without permission of the advertisers, so that Google can, it seems, bump up the bid in the auction. This is completely unlike the behaviour from 2003 to the end of 2007.

    That is scandalous, if true. It's all down to this "Search History Permutation" that they've started using, without notifying advertisers that the system is fundamentally different.

    What makes this scary is that Google is large enough to affect the international economy - billions of dollars of ad revenue translate to trillions of purchases. Advertisers see the changes in impression rates, CTR and conversion and assume that this is a consequence of the economy tanking, instead of Google's manipulation of the auction.

    FWIW, I *am* an AdWords expert - I'm the most posted contributor to the AdWords Help Forum, outside Google's own staff, and I've been a Google Advertising Professional since shortly after the program started. I'm appalled at the recent unannounced changes.

  26. Lee Dowling Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not a monopoly

    I have to echo some sentiments here:

    You are CHOOSING to buy an ad on Google. You are CHOOSING which terms and conditions you agree to. You are CHOOSING how much to spend. You are CHOOSING not to use the competitors (because, put simply, they don't make you as much money). You are freely CHOOSING to rely on that particular third-party, in a market of other third-parties. That's NOT a "monopoly abusing its position", that's just a greater share of the market and providing a better product.

    Google are not doing things like buying up every other ad company in the world, forcing websites to display Google ad's (that's a free choice of the webmaster, nobody is MADE to display Google's ads, but there is an "exclusivity" clause in showing Google ads on your website that stops you gaming many ad suppliers), cutting off other Google services to people that refuse to display Google ads, etc. They are behaving sensibly and responsibly and within the agreements that you have agreed to.

    The fact that you can't make money from buying a couple of Google's ads isn't their problem. It really isn't. The fact that you blow $90,000 on Google ads and see no return is not their problem, so long as they did what they said they would do. The fact that you can get to the very top of their listings, legitimately, without having to buy a single ad from them is a show of just what they are doing... trying to provide a search engine. They are funded by ads, yes, but they are not controlled by them - the top spot on the search engine is not bought, it's earned by being relevant. Those little bits on the right and above the actual search results that most people just plain ignore are the bits you can buy, by agreeing to Google's (not unreasonable) terms. I don't think I've ever clicked one in my life, even when it was relevant. Even people who are new to computers filter them out of their brains within about ten minutes of viewing pages and finding which results ARE relevant.

    If your business relies on people clicking a Google ad, you're doomed to failure. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon... If your business relies on getting visitors from the web, that's a different story entirely and has nothing to do with Google ads.

    On a personal note, I have Google ads displayed on my sites but I would NEVER buy one, even if I was a millionaire. I might try to get to the top of the listings myself through some HTML trickery but not by gaming the system. My brother runs a *very* popular website which we started together and has been running for nearly 10 years now. Just before Christmas we put our first ever adverts on it (Google ads) to bring in some money. We were expecting pence. We got more than enough to fund the hosting of the website (high-bandwidth) and a bit left over. The cheques are regular and sufficient. That's brilliant, because it was never designed or expected to generate any money whatsoever.

    Not once has the site ever previously been advertised with any ad campaign. Our visitors come to us mainly because they find us in Google, or MSN, or Yahoo, or, or a million and one other search engines and linking sites. Because we are relevant.

    We submitted it to search engines years ago, created some relevant content and Google therefore rewarded us with high-ranking listings and high-paying ads displayed on the site. We could actually make the same amount of money from suppliers that approach us about displaying a single ad in the same place for a fixed fee per year. We get about a dozen offers a year. Most of them could never afford to replace our Google Ad income.

    But we couldn't ever rely on any business we ran, even from that site, being primarily funded by the fact that people come to us from a Google ad that we have to pay for, that's just crazy. You have to have product, you have to have standing, you have to have profit margins, you have to have a study influx of visitors from ALL types of media, web, phone, email, fax, walking-through-the-door, word-of-mouth. But most of you, you have to be relevant and not rely on a third-party to get visitors for you unless you have read every single clause in your contract with them. If they were a conventional advertisement company, would you agree to those terms. If yes, then you can't complain about Google. If no, then why are you agreeing to Google's terms?

    Don't tell me that you NEED Google to run a web business. That's rubbish. You just need pageviews. If you can't get your pageviews through Google's unpaid service, then you're wasting your time to start.

  27. John Band

    Richest country?

    "These are all far worse jobs than working in an air-conditioned, comfortable office in the richest country in the world for one of the largest firms in the world."

    Google are based in Luxembourg now? Who knew...

  28. Terry

    Re :Try Scroogling...

    If you want to google without the various payloads try scroogle (the org is important - the com version is NSFW ).

    Tell me about it! Someone mentioned scroogle in a comment a few days ago, so I thought I'd try it Elapsed time between hitting enter and Ctrl-F4 - less than a quarter of a second. Very NSFW

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    John Band....

    Nah, Liechtenstein. You think those are mountains?

  30. Jared Earle
    Dead Vulture


    A long rant like this carries 6 pages of Google Ads.

    Anyway ...

    Google have a near-monopoly because their search engine is simply better than the rest. They made it useable and therefore advertisers want to advertise on them. If you don't like Google, there are plenty of alternatives - it's not Google's fault the alternatives are crap.

    If you think Google are evil, you should read the news some day.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Adsense competitors

    Are there any serious competitors to Google Adsense?

  32. Garth

    "What is the poor end marketer to do?"

    Might I suggest following the advise of the venerable Bill Hicks?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google and monopolies

    For all you chaps who insist Google aren't a monopoly because you don't HAVE to use them, sure, you're technically correct, but online advertising is almost always ROI focused, and Google delivers the best ROI. Online businesses will of course devote their marketing resources to the most effective channels, which for most means spending their money with Google. Google becomes a de facto monopoly. "Ah" you say, "but you can still go somewhere else, and if Google is delivering the best ROI, what are you moaning about?" The problem is that Google can (and does) arbitrarily change the rules and you have no way of knowing when they're going to do it, and no comeback when it happens. I would LOVE to balance my online marketing budget across several sources all delivering decent ROI, but the simple fact is there aren't several sources anymore, not credible ones anyway.

    And of course, this article was just about PPC; it didn't even touch on the amount of time and resource online businesses have to spend focused on Google natural search.

    Its all very unhealthy, and I really do wish there were some viable alternatives. Apart from anything else, concentrating so much of your effort on Google just isn't as much fun as online marketing was five years ago.

  34. John Sanders
    IT Angle

    Wasn't google...

    The best search engine out there?

    AFAIK I do not use Google because I like the ads, I use it because it finds sites much better than Microsoft Live Joke or Yahoo's search.

  35. gothicform
    Dead Vulture

    smartpricing is dumb

    One nice example of smartpricing from the webmaster's side is to monitor what that ads on each page take and then remove the poorest ones. Your overall take goes up despite you having the same traffic as before hitting your sites and the ads being showed LESS times but because its better quality ad displays they pay you more!

    So for example,

    100,000 good ad views + 100,000 bad ad views = $300.00

    100,000 good ad views + 0 bad ad views = $400.00

    It seems smartpricing actually awards bad ad views with a negative overall for webmasters, but you can bet they are charging for those bad ad views to advertisers. At the same time, it's impossible for them to have a value of less than zero but they somehow manage to do that!

    Of course, as we can't see the system we cannot see it for certain but this is how it seems to work. Adsense used to be great but at the end of last year my CPM which had been rocksteady suddenly halved and only went up again when I removed the bad ads (I now sell that space privately).

  36. Daniel B.


    "I had a look at the new office on a BBC video and couldn't think of a worse place to work on the planet"

    Try minesweeping, working on *anything* near a guerilla zone, IT Manager ... for a drug-lord, critical IT areas in finantial institutions... you haven't seen true evil yet.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Google are talking shite

    I'll repeat what I've said in an earlier thread. Ad revenue using Google Adsense for me has declined from a grand a month to a piddly 300 quid a month, even tho my web site is 10 fold the traffic I was getting when I was earning a grand a month. Google has totally abused its position in the ad market, and the only reason I'm posting this anonymously is so they don't rip me off even further.

    Paris. Coz she smells of fish too.

  38. Schultz

    Romanian massage parlors

    AC & ManFroMMars: "I wouldn't give Microsoft my credit card number because I'd expect to see it stolen and used in Romanian massage parlours..."

    Mmmh, Romanian massage parlors, people certainly get around those days!

  39. Robert Hill
    Thumb Down

    Ad Score == Consumer Credit Score

    There are a ton of paralles between your AdSense scores and your Credit Score. Both are blackbox. Both are designed to be hard to game. Both are basically unappealable. Both end up costing you more money if they are bad.

    To treat Google different because they use a similarly obscure function as banks, credit rating companies, credit card companies, etc. is just plain ludicrist.

    You expected Google to "answer your questions" for scoring? Huh. I have a good idea then: call Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Citibank, GE Money, Equifax and a few other financial firms and ask them to discuss their credit risk scoring models in detail. Just "answer a few of your questions". Your ears will ring with how fast they hang up the phone on you.

    Google spent a lot of money to build those models, and they have a huge impact on company performance. Why on earth you expect them to discuss them so that they can be reverse engineered or tuned escapes me totally...and your need to repeatedly castigate them about their non-disclosure reeks of someone being paid either by the word, or by the contrived controversy.

    Once more, an El Reg journo with no comprehension of the outside world methinks...thumbs down on the article, even if the fundamental explanation of AdWords was nice to read.

  40. Johnny Rotten

    I didn't know Google was in the ad business.

    Look, we all think Google is in the search business because we "google" stuff all day.

    They are in the advertising business.

    All their press is about search and other free/half-baked widgets.

    All their business (ads) gets like no press coverage.

    This is actually the first good article I've seen about Google's business.

    It's like if we wrote about Ford and only talked about the radios in the car, and never talked about the cars it makes and sells.

    Does any user every brag about how he loves using Google ads to find great stuff? All I ever read about, re the ads, is from the selling side, never from the "user side".

    My take is that Google ads are for mostly crap..i.e. if you're selling crap you need to advertise a lot. Like there's a lot of viagra and porn and casino ads.

    Aren't Google ads just another form of spam? Does anyone click on them and love it? Please respond if you do.

  41. Dirk Vandenheuvel
    Gates Halo

    Who are these people that click on ads?

    Seriously? I am pretty shocked that this whole business hasn't already collapsed.

    People who actually pay for these ads probably think real people click on this and see their products. In the real world all hits are probably generated by specially set up websites to attracts clicks. So basically ad people are making Google and a few Internet script kiddies rich.

    Come to think of it. Ad people getting ripped off? Maybe not such a bad idea.

  42. JimS
    Thumb Up


    Good article over all (especially for new adwords users), but basically 6 pages to tell advertisers if they don't know what they are doing, can't be arsed to RUN campaigns properly (ie track costs, clicks, use analytics, set up internal tracking systems, study how it works etc etc), then they are wasting their money?

    Nothing new there really.

    Advertising, whether it be in magazines, papers or on the internet takes effort to run. You can't just type in a few words and expect the money to roll in, you have to work at it.

    Adwords works well if you keep an eye on it. I've no doubt that they try and squeeze every penny out of advertisers, they are a business after all.

  43. W


    "It's like if we wrote about Ford and only talked about the radios in the car, and never talked about the cars it makes and sells."

    Nah, I'd imagine it's more like the fact that we talk about cars and their performance, but it's actually all the extras (radios, metallic paint, alloy wheels, sat nav, cup holders, light in the boot, leather seats) that give 'em the margins. I'm sure the bog standard ranges are less profitable than the premium models.

    And I'm sure that if everyone bought a cars without all the "trimmings" (like radios), but the companies kept investing in safety and handling features at the same level, they'd soon go bust.

    Same with Google. Cut off the "trimmings" (the ad serving side) and the core product could'nt be self sufficient.

    The car manufacturers aren't able to subsidise free cars painted with adverts (though I believe some attempts have been made). But Taxis are able to go part of the way and make some money from the ad-based business model, it would seem...

  44. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Bigger Toys for Mr Bigs ... for the Real Thing or just a Fraud.

    "The car manufacturers aren't able to subsidise free cars painted with adverts (though I believe some attempts have been made)." .... By W Posted Thursday 20th March 2008 11:45 GMT

    Some car manufacturers can provide free automotive service to clients who fit their Profiling Needs. Pimping is as Pimping does ...... and there definitely is a Top Gun Dog Rivalry to have ExeCutive Class Lead. There are some Jessies around though. A Crazies Circus

    For in a Society which has lot of money to Spend, Class Manufacturers can Rightly Choose their Clients to Ensure the Perceived Wisdom of Wider Choice Searching for Excellences.

    Cars to Fit the Deeds of Man ...... or Fat Fool Toys? :-) Does IT Really Matter?

  45. DR

    the point

    The point isn't that the ads cost more

    it's that click throughs are less.

    I know myself having designed a site, when testing ad placement I noticed that on my indie music label site that offered CDs

    there were a lot of irrelevant google ads for plumbers. not a mention of anything plumbing related on the site.

    that kind of tipped me off. basically google had charged these plumbers for that ad to appear on my page, even tough it's likely that there would never be a click through.

    i don't doubt that google have an algorithm for displaying ads, what I do doubt is the complexity of the algorithm... it'ssem that it's pretty much...

    quick scan page,

    does it have anything relevant to our ad bidders?

    ?yes > display relevant ad

    ?no > display irrelevant ad

    either way they'll take the money. and it's particularly hard to prove that it goes on. but it does go on.

    negligence like this will inevitably be the unmaking of google.

    for a start those with the ads will loose ad revenue as people won't click through irrelevant ads, so the page makers will just stop displaying google ads and go for another ad company

    also those buying ad space will notice that they are paying a lot more for a lot less, and will stop displaying ads on google.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quality Score != Credit Score

    Very good parallel about "Quality Score" = "Credit Score", except for one thing: credit-scoring agencies don't get to collect money from you based on the score they assign. Google has a moral hazard that Equifax doesn't, because the amount you pay Google is directly related to the (secret) score they assign you.

    And appealing your credit score is easier, too.

  47. Robert Armstrong

    There is nothing there

    Google does nothing. There is no value add. A bigger scam than Microsoft Office for sure.

    Putting on my sunglasses and heading towards the door.

  48. Jeff Davies

    google aren't maintaining their monopoly by any illegal means I can see

    As far as I can tell Google aren't employing evangelists, aren't stacking standards bodies to try to get their formats adopted, and in no way stop you using other search engines or limit you to "the google browser".

    This lack of illegally leveraging their products means they are playing fair and square.

    This is totally unlike Microsoft, who time and time again resort to the same illegal tactics of leveraging one product through another that they are a monopoly in.

    If you look at the APIs and documentation that Google have published, the quality is outstanding.

    The day that someone makes a better search engine than Google, everyone can freely move to the competitor, there is no tie-in. Put simply however, no-one has made a better search engine.

    As far as I can tell there is no bias in Google's search results. I know if people try to cheat to get their website ranking higher, then Google punish this by demoting the site, which I think is fair enough. What I haven't seen is any convincing argument based on a scientific study that says that Google's search results are unfair.

    Sure a guy trying to make his products rank over his competitors will be frustrated. Tough. That's exactly WHY people LIKE using google.

    Remember the bad old days of hotbot, lycos where the first 5 pages of results were irrelevant ads, and hardly any effort was expended by the search engine owners to actually search relevant content. (they'd all just become pointless advertising engines).

    If you don't like it, make your own one that you think is fairer. There is literally nothing stopping you.

  49. Ashlee Vance (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: google aren't maintaining their monopoly by any illegal means I can see

    Mmm, Google does hire evangelists. Jeremy Allison, of Samba fame, was hired as a "Linux evangelist" for example.

    There is quite a bit of bias in Google's results. Ever noticed how Wikipedia crawls to the top on so many searches? PageRank is bias.

  50. Chad

    What Google's riches really rely on...

    Google's riches rely on pissing all over your right to privacy.

  51. Johnny Rotten

    Google good cuz Microsoft bad

    okay Google is good because Microsoft is bad.

    But I actually like Microsoft products. I use them a lot. They get the job done as well as any other technology I use.

    So where does that leave me. Am I just wrong/bad?

    Oh well. I suck! Someday maybe I will get fixed and love the Google.

    Google is probably also good cuz my dad beat me and Google doesn't!

  52. This post has been deleted by its author

  53. amanfromMars Silver badge


    "Google's riches rely on pissing all over your right to privacy." ..... By Chad

    Posted Friday 21st March 2008 15:36 GMT

    Don't be such a Chav, Chad. Cool them Negative Waves. Google's riches rely on providing your wishes, searched for privately, as is one's right, but there is no inherent overall absolute right to privacy and to think that there is or ever has been or ever will be, is naive in the extreme and quite delusional, no matter how widespread the thought of privacy as a necessity for security is pimped for the sharing/burying of the dirty little secrets which destroy false dreams and paper tigers...... and Charlatans parading as Charlemagne.

    Of course, what all the Pimps and Whores in Government and Governments are rightly worried about [as it exposes their Present Ignorance and Past Arrogance] is a Really SMART Search Engine which Provides Global Governance.

    QuITe why Google have not yet Embarked/Launched themselves into that Orbit suggests that they have no Global Governance CompleXXXXIT Web/Channel/Guru ............. Special Instruction Set/Manual.

    However, anyone with the Savvy can use Search Engines and Computer and Communications Operating Systems by Proxy for their Own Global Governance Administration such as are frequently heralded as in here ..... .

    In Mitigating Factors on that page, I wonder how they expect point one to remain secure in the light of point three.

  54. dave

    Ah the irony...

    Are The Register going to share how much *they* make from Google AdSense with their readers?

  55. David

    Google isn't bias

    <quote>There is quite a bit of bias in Google's results. Ever noticed how Wikipedia crawls to the top on so many searches? PageRank is bias.</quote>

    Um, Google doesn't own Wikipedia and Wikipedia do not advertise with Google or any ads. How is that bias?

    Wikipedia gets there because it is a quality link.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    adsense is evil

    adsense can track your preferences and its everywhere like big brother ouch. combining this with real statistics, and well... google knows what the pub you go last night and what time you arrive at home.

    well big brother is power and google have it.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    "To be fair"?!?

    " To be fair, Google bills "automatic matching" as a beta. "

    To be fair, I don't think that there are many companies that automatically transfer customers of their live services into a beta program.

    That sounds actionable to me.

  58. Barbara Moore

    AdSense and privacy

    We all know that Google uses its ads to help it to profile web users.

    Someone must have been getting upset about that, or perhaps it is because of Google's acquisitions, because now all publishers of AdSense must have a privacy statement which details out the tracking done by the scripts which display the ads.

    You can pick up a privacy statement here:

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Google no better than a clip joint

    Their existing customers are fine paying millions a month for their top positions and low CPC, but for new customers they're no better than a clip joint. Just like a clip joint they're not looking for repeat customers, once they've taken your money it's goodbye and on to the next sucker.

    They must have an almost never ending supply of new customers trying their luck on Adwords, blowing their budget and then giving up. Not a good way to grow a business really. Word will get around eventually that for most new customers there is no ROI available to them on adwords.

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