Google: Our All-Powerful, Uncontrollable Partner

Google: Our All-Powerful, Uncontrollable Partner

Sometimes I think that publishers and Google are moving in different directions. As publishers, we put in all sorts of effort to match colors, check placement and blend ads into our sites so that they bring in the maximum amount of income.

That's the same goal that Google has.

They also want to see us doing well. And they're doing everything they can to help us. The problem is that we have no control over the measures that they're taking … and sometimes their work clashes with ours.

A case in point is the expanded text ads. You've probably seen these on your site. Maybe you've embedded a rectangular ad unit into an article, put it right at the beginning so that users can not miss it and matched it to the rest of the page so that it looks like part of the text. Then you open the page a few days later and find that instead having a bunch of ads in the same font size as the surrounding text, you've got just one or two big ads with lots of white space around them. The whole area screams "Ad!"

Two things could have happened: either you've been site-targeted by an advertiser who's paying per impression; or you've been keyword-targeted and Google has determined that a larger ad will give you more money.

As long as Google is right about the effect on the bottom line, that's fine. If I'm making more money from an advertiser paying per impression than I would make fishing for clicks then I do not care how much the ad looks like an ad. Google can put flashing neon lights around it for all I care. I doubt if many people would click … but then they do not have to click to make me money.

And if Google finds that one big keyword-targeting ad will bring more clicks than several smaller ads, then they can go ahead and put a single ad there. But I can not help feeling skeptical about that and I'm a bit worried about relying on Google's automated predictions to determine how my site will make money.

It's not that I do not trust Google. I'd just like to know why think that a big lonely ad is going to do well.

Google will not give me the figures they used to make their predictions. But I can still check them. When I find that I'm being served an expanded text ad instead of a group of smaller, better blended ads then I'm going to watch its performance like a hawk. If I see my revenues drop, that ad is getting blocked.

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