Feeds

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

'Please ignore the cash machine behind the curtain'

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

AdNonSense

The same logic applies to the Google "content network," a collection of third-party websites that ties into the AdWords program. In addition to serving ads onto its own search site, Google serves them onto other sites, offering those sites a cut of the AdWords pie.

Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

In this case, ads aren't matched to keywords. They're matched to a site's content, and ultimately, it's Google that decides what's a match and what's not.

Many advertisers have great success on the content side. There are valid reasons to drive ad traffic through third-party sites. But it's a very different game than pure search advertising. People browsing content sites aren't actively searching for anything. They're just reading. This means that click-through-rates and conversion rates are often much lower. And since Google has complete control over matches, it's even harder to control where ads show up and where they don't.

Nonetheless, when advertisers sign up for AdWords, they're automatically included in the content network. And again, many don't realize it. They think they're bidding for nothing but keywords, when in fact they're bidding for placement on third-party content sites as well.

"All new search campaigns are automatically run on the Google content network unless an advertiser opts out," Google told us. "Contextual targeting is an extension of search advertising. Just as users can search for keywords on Google and see ads related to those keywords, visitors to content network sites can see ads related specifically to the content they are viewing on a web page."

Using something called "smart pricing," Google automatically tweaks bids for use on the content network. But once again, this doesn't always work in the advertiser's favor. "Google says that smart pricing will figure it all out, taking your search bids and turning them into content bids," says Aaron Wall, another well-known search marketing consultant. "But if you don't take the time to separate those bids, a lot of times you're going to get hosed."

"I do feel like Google duped me into the content network."

Chances are, an advertiser will inadvertently serve ads onto sites that have nothing to do with their ads. And by the time they realize this is going on - sometimes months down the road - they've already burned some serious cash. Six months passed before MuleSource's Rosenberg discovered that a majority of his ads were being served onto content sites, and a good portion of these sites clearly had nothing to do with his product.

In fact, many of the sites were obvious domain parkers, sites that do nothing but make money from ads. "You could tell just from their names," Rosenberg told us. These domain names included "1000jogos.com," "23qqw.cn," and "193.164.132.164."

"I do feel like Google duped me into the content network," Rosenberg, who spent close to $7,500 a month before discovering his ads were appearing on the content network, said. "You can get completely screwed - unless you go in and exclude irrelevant sites manually for every campaign you run." And of course, if you don't make such exclusions, Google reaps the benefits.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Next page: The Anti-eBay

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.