back to article Google remodels top secret money machine

Nowadays, even Google is questioning Google's rose-colored portrait of its ever-expanding search advertising monopoly. The way senior vp Jonathan Rosenberg tells it, Google will gradually tweak its AdWords ad platform until it displays almost no ads. Ad "coverage" on the world's largest search engine has certainly shrunk over …


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  1. Dick Emery


    I see no ads. Stylish and AdBlock FTW.

  2. Solomon Grundy

    Chocolate Lollipop

    When I type 'chocolate lollipop' into my open source fully standards compliant chrome corporate analysis time machine browser I want PORN. Jesus. Where the hell were you guys, and Google, when the Internet was invented?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one clicks ads anymore

    everyone has blockers. The only people you get are web first timers, and even then you have to position so they think it is logical.

    Every now and again I will drop my ad block and click on an ad on the register, just to keep you guys going :)

    And I do it for sites that give me information as well, I do read the ad and I choose an Ad I am interested in.

    Apart from the that the ad blocker stays on.

    In fact with you guys it is a little more complex, if I don't get my post posted, i.e. moderated away I will add a day to the countdown to click an ad. I am just teasing ;)

    But, just so people know; an ad model for sites doesn't work, don't even bother.

    In fact they are more of a liability. You will get a rude email from google, claiming / warning of fraud if you click any ad on your pages just to check what they link to.

    What amazes me is they can detect that (well that's not amazing, the next bit it is), but instead of just not crediting, they send a ballsy email, it makes no sense whatsoever.

    Duh, just don't credit problem solved. People are going to want to see what they are linking to, just in case it is something bad, or heaven forbid they could be interested. And google only offers some crap IE plugin, oh yeah use Linux to run all your machines, build a browser on all the open source stuff, but don't bother to offer a plugin :), for something that is already detectable and should just be dropped, no send us snotty little emails :).

  4. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Suspended my account

    The price just kept going up and up. I started off with 20p per click. Fine, few clicks per month. Then my ads were no longer served as my site's 'quality' isn't high enough. Google now want £2.50 per click. No thanks.

    I have another search query on my name. Helps me avoid clashes with some Australian artist. Searching returns just 2 adverts - neither relevant, but my minimum bid still isn't good enough for Google.

    So my choices for advertising are:

    1) Google - too expensive and my ads don't appear much

    2) Microsoft Live - nobody uses it

    3) Yahoo - nobody in business uses it. Only useful for targetting low cost stuff to consumers.

    Ah well.

    Paris because she'll accept any bid.

  5. Deb Swinney

    If Google really believe in automatic matching...

    ... then why not place the extra ads for free, but charge double (or some multiple) for click-throughs. Then people will pay more if Google really does find them more customers, but not otherwise.

    Of course, that model would only make sense if Google really believes that their extra ads are appearing to the right audience.

    The pirate logo, because it seemed relevant.

  6. Gulfie

    A nice little earner for Google

    I used adwords for a couple of years for my sports website, as a way to bring in new punters and have to agree with AC above. From the (small)advertisers perspective I don't think the system provides sufficient value for money, and in the long term I'd expect Google's advertising revenue from each individual advertiser to drop. I was paying between 50p and £1 per conversion into a new account. With average yearly income from users of 10p it just wasn't worth it.

    last year I started using adsense and despite AC's claims that everybody ignores the adverts I have to disagree. In the first six months of this year I earned £50 from about 500 click-throughs from 200,000 page views, a click-through rate of about 0.25% - every little helps!

    That said, I will never return to adwords, I always regarded it as severely skewed in favour of the management. Have a look at the cost of showing adverts on content - non-google sites. Advertisers pay per advert shown on content, NOT per click - or at least that was the case when I last accidentally used it in 2007 (and it cost me half my advertising budget in just three days with just one sign-up). However as a displayer of content adverts I only get paid if a user actually clicks on the advert. And even then, the gap between the cost of the advert and the income to the content site is huge. In my case:

    200,000 pages each showing two adverts at (say) 25p per page view is an income of £50,000. I received just £50 for the clicks, so a nice little earner of £49,950 for Google.

    Of course things may have moved on since last year; maybe Google don't charge per ad in the content network anymore...

    There are, in my experience, more effective ways for small sites to get traffic. I think where Google scores is that the bigger sites that have a marketing budget can afford to throw large amounts of money at wide-coverage advertising campaigns.

  7. Remy Redert

    blockers and ads

    Currently using Firefox and adblock plus, as well as Noscript. I leave most (non-flash, non-java) ads on however, as they don't generally get in my way. Ofcourse anyone serving an eyesore to my pretty page gets added to the (pretty short) adblock list.

    I general, I find ads of the type that google serves to be fairly benign and (rarely) they can in fact be usefull.

  8. The Dark Lord

    And in other news: Sun rises in morning

    Ah, the Google backlash, finally girding its loins.

    Sorry to all the Google fanboys, but it's just a corporate money machine, hell-bent on world domination. So, how are we going to get dollar signs into ITS name, eh?

  9. Pieter Vos

    @No one clicks ads anymore

    I think you're overestimating the general web population, those 80% of the market who still use IE and have no ad blockers installed. If no-one clicked ads, why is Google making enough profit to buy a small country every quarter?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    AdWords are a waste of money

    I run the website for my father-in-laws shop, which does not take in a lot of profit.

    We tried to use AdWords to help gain more from internet users, but have ended up spending a fortune (more that one months takings) just for 2 weeks of adverts with Google.

    I don't think Google understand that some people need cheaper advertising options, and not everyone who has a website can afford to pay them £5 everyone clicks on the advert.

    Paris, because even she knows when things are a rip-off...

  11. CEO SEO

    most people click the ads!

    "most" people (anyone not in internet marketing or pay per click biz)

    have no idea they are ads and just want relevant results....

    google used to be good at that, now....desperate times call for desperate measures.

    I guess but how desperate are you when you have billions and are the top in your industry? guess wall street really decides how many ads we will see,


  12. Andrew

    @The Dark Lord

    What about Goog£e?

    Definitely right up there with Starbucks on the evil empires list!

  13. Nick Sargeant

    Power corrupts

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Don't act all surprised about it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't Google scale rates?

    I can understand why people searching for wedding favours might also want wedding table decorations, but clearly people searching for wedding table decorations are more likely to want wedding table decorations. Google needs to put some sort of scaling factor into its ad fees so that you pay less if the listing is less relevant to your needs. Whether people will trust Google to do this automatically is another question. If Google wanted to build goodwill it could insert these less-relevant automatic adverts for free as a bonus for good customers, or offer some similar discount.

  15. John

    User habits

    I use Google primarily for search. A search returns links which I follow, and adverts which I don't (or if I do it's so extremely rare I don't even remember).

    Isn't this the norm?

    I know spammers can find a profit in only 50 responses to 9 billion spam in a single campaign, maybe the advertising financial model is also based on small crumbs?

  16. Nigel Kneale

    Obligatory reminder of common sense:

    If Google are making more money advertising your wares than you are earning from sales made through their adverts, then Google aren't the advertisers for you.

    Go hire proper marketing people.

    Calling Google evil money-grabbing bastards because their ad campaigns aren't good for you won't solve anything. Switch to someone who knows what they're doing.

  17. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    Tried It --- Spent $150 --- Stopped it

    however, i DO like ads in my websites, google adsense is the only consistant money maker for my photo galleries.

    I also use Google custom search box on my home page, it DOES generate a bit of revenue.

    Paris, cause she is in my web pages too.

  18. Craig

    @my father-in-laws shop

    You sell fathers-in-law? Oh, you meant "father-in-law's" ;-)

  19. James Butler

    So much anger ... just stop using AdWords!

    "...there's no denying that Google is attempting to wrest even more control from advertisers - while ensuring additional spending."

    Yes, there is, Metz. You've really got to stop writing about a company you know so little about. Oh, sorry ... I mean "regurgitating" about a company ...

    I recall a couple of your previous Google-slamming articles as claiming that they were practically raping their advertisers, yet recent data show that they have been making less money. So which is it? Are they making less money, or are they screwing their advertisers for more money? Check your head, Metz. Try to keep your personal grudge against Google out of your work. It's suffering. You sound really whiny.

    @No one clicks ads anymore

    You understood the terms of the AdSense program when you signed up for it, now you complain about those terms? Are you unaware of your browser's capability to grab the underlying link address and copy it to the clipboard so you can simply paste that address into your address bar and go to the site without clicking on the link and costing the advertiser money?


    You are mistaken about ads showing on content sites. I don't know where you got the impression (hee hee) that you were paying per impression on content sites under the AdWords program, but it doesn't work like that, and never has. It is true that content sites are very, very poor performers for most types of business, however your costs went up because of clicks on the ads, not simply because the ads were being shown.

    @The Dark Lord & Nigel Kneale

    Spot on. Let's not confuse "don't be evil" with "don't make any money". Advertisers work with Google because it makes them money. If your ads don't make you money, rethink your strategy instead of blaming your poor decision to spend money in a medium that does not serve your needs. Also keep in mind that people do not have the obligation to spend their money with you, just because you advertise. For all we know, your products might be crap, which more easily explains how your advertising spend is higher than the money you make from it. If your products were God's gift to retail, then you would see that your ad spend resulted in more money for your company.

    Competition still exists, and most shoppers demand quality, not just visibility.

  20. Mike Powers


    "I recall a couple of your previous Google-slamming articles as claiming that they were practically raping their advertisers, yet recent data show that they have been making less money."

    Once the rats start to flee the sinking ship, those that remain will be squeezed all the harder. Google's management knows that if they start scaling back the "perks"--not just the cushy offices, but the fun useless nerd-make-work projects like Gmail and Orkut and Chrome--then its talent will desert, and Google will turn into Yahoo!. So Google has to work out ways to keep revenue going up up UP, even as its userbase goes down DOWN dowwwn...

    Also, "no-one clicks ads" isn't an AdWords user. In fact, he's not even an AdWords clicker. Please to be reading post instead of jerking the knee.

  21. Herby

    If you want to test...

    ...try "Redirect remover" for Firefox. It is a wonderful goodie that makes "click-thru's" go away. Wonderful for seeing what the ad-server is offering up these days.

    Yes, ad-block-plus is wonderful. If I see something that IS worthwhile, I will go there, but usually I search for what I want.

    Better than advertising: Editorial content. A good product review does wonders for prompting me to buy things. The Peak camera (now offered as AirLink101 in the USA) is an example.

    Note to self: Visit Cash ’n’ Carrion soon. Get a nice BOFH shirt.

  22. jake Silver badge

    Advertising in general ...

    Why, exactly, is it that the marketeers of the world think that shoving their crap in my face whenever and wherever they can is a good strategy to induce sales?

    I realize that some small percentage of humanity might possibly stay up late at night, waiting breathlessly for the latest TurnipTwaddler(tm) or other low-cost must-have ... These slack-jawed mouth-breathers are the demographic that most online advertising seems to be aimed at.

    But what about the rest of us?

    I mean, honestly, can anyone who is reading this remember when the last time anybody they know bought anything after seeing it advertised? On-sale items excluded ... people needing new Levis or beer or cheese already know what they want, they just need to know where to get it cheap.

    I know for a fact that I do NOT investigate into the more obnoxious advertising. In fact I go way out of my way to avoid goods and services from such companies. Virtually every bit of Flash falls into this category.

    I watch TV 30 minutes after scheduled times to fast forward thru' commercials (thanks, MythTV); I never listen to commercial radio (except baseball games, and then I mute the sound for two minutes between innings; button on the dash kills the speakers in the cars for 110 seconds); I never even notice ads in newspapers and magazines unless I'm looking for something specific.

    Online, I only see Flash when I choose to see it, and I aggressively block banner ads. I'm never going to click a banner ad, so why waste the bandwidth? When was the last time any of y'all clicked a banner ad? When was the last time you saw anyone with an IQ over 75 who has been online for more than six months click a banner ad?

    Before anyone says "But the banners pay for the content!", please re-read what I typed above ... I'll never click on one. If I need to find something online, I know how to look for it. Advertisers are better off making sure they are listed with the bigger search engines (I use Metacrawler) than feeding me banner adds. I suspect that this is true for anyone in my demographic (educated, net savey[1], techno-geek, more disposable income than most, largish horse ranch owner).

    As for telemarketers ... Suffice to say that I like making 'em cry when I have a few minutes to kill. Try "You should get a job as a hooker, at least then you'd be paid for making people feel better instead of being paid to irritate them". As long as you don't swear or yell, they aren't allowed to hang up ... I kept one poor sap on the phone for almost an hour driving from Solvang to Napa before hanging up with "You know, I have no idea what company you work for, nor what product you are selling. GREAT form of Marketing and use of your time, no?". I was bored, transporting 12 horses for my wife ...

    When the revolution comes, Marketers will be the first up against the wall. Or maybe second, after lawyers. Or maybe third, after politicians ...

    Note to self: Visit Cash ’n’ Carrion soon. Get Wife a nice RTFM shirt and myself a dozen coffee cups.

    [1] First "online" experience was Stanford's Tymeshare, in 1978 or so,

    My SAIL bang path email address is archived at DejaGoo

  23. Nigel Kneale

    You might not click on an ad...

    ...but someone else will. The percentage of clickers over viewers (and of eventual buyers over clickers) might be small, but for *any* ad campaign, if that percentage is high enough to cover costs and generate enough sales to make the ad campaign worthwhile, then these ads work.

    It's like spam emails and Nigerian scams - their hit-rate is probably a fraction of one percent, but enough people respond to make it all worthwhile.

    El Reg's coverage of Adwords, and most of the comments following it, reveal that very very few people here understand marketing strategies. Which of course is good for El Reg as it enables them to climb onto their anti-Google hobbyhorse and start spreading more FUD about them.

  24. Mike Powers


    It's not FUD to point out that the vast majority of readers completely ignore the ads, and that vanishingly few people ever actually click on them.

    It's not FUD to comment that Google advertises its services as "ONLY pay when an ad is served to a targeted search" and then set up their system to serve as many ads as possible to unrelated searches.

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