Problems With Google AdSense?

1 December, 2008

In the wake of Mumbai, the reaction from the digital realm has been expectedly huge.

One example is the #Mumbai tag used on Twitter.  As the FT says Twitter turns serious amid India terror.

One thing that has been a bit of a shock was a surprising rookie mistake from Google.  That is, AdSense was displaying ads for Terrorism against content about the attacks.

Google AdSense Showing Terrorist Ads

© Sanyam

I call this as a rookie as this is a basic use case that needs to be covered by any contextual ad engine.  If something as obvious as this has happened, then it must put a deep question of doubt about the quality of the ad to content matching with AdSense.

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Google May Have Changed the Search Game (again)

21 November, 2008

AdViking is learning not to be to effusive about the efforts coming out of Google Labs but if the SearchWiki approach gets traction then I think they have done it again.

More details below but basic premise is that someone with a Google account can control their results set now by ranking, removing, adding notes and see what changes other users have done.

If this gets traction then this could be really big.  Think about all the additional data that Google is gathering here to improve their search results.  Forget semantic or the team of paid editors they have running, this is pure crowdsourcing.

By that, let’s say a search for Good Coffee brings back 10 results.

Of those 10. 2 people don’t bother to do anything.  8 changes things around.  Let’s just say that 5 people remove Starbucks from the top 10 list here…well than naturally this is a worthwhile improvement to be considered by Google.

Man, imagine what this is going to do to SEO.  And this quickly could rise to a whole new way of gaming the system…

RWW asked the Inventor of the Wiki what he thought and amongst other things, he says this:

They are going to get a lot of data. They obviously have the ability to wield information, let’s just hope that we will all benefit. I don’t think it’s obvious that we all will benefit – but I guess I have enough trust in the behavior of a large number of people.

For sure one to ponder, play around with and see what the impact is.

Here’s what they say about it:

Customize Your Search Results with SearchWiki

Google users now have more control over their search experience, thanks to our newest addition to Google Web Search: SearchWiki. With this new set of features, users can add, delete, re-sort or comment on search results for any query, to create a set of search results that’s customized just for them.

Just do a web search when logged in to your Google account, and check out all the new tools that are available. Now you can reorder results so that the site you prefer always appears first, delete a link from the search results that seems out of place, add a url so your favorite site always shows up for that search, or post a comment so you can remind yourself about a page’s content or provide recommendations to other users doing the same search.

These notes will only affect your search results pages and do not impact the ranking for other users when they search on Google. But to see even more information about what other users think about a search, check out the “All notes for this SearchWiki” link, which lets you see an aggregated view of which pages have been moved up, deleted or added, as well as the comments users have added for specific sites.

Here’s a video of it in action


Google Shutters Lively

20 November, 2008

Sad Lively Avatar

Google has announced they are closing their foray into virtual worlds, Lively.

On the surface it’s somewhat surprising news at it was only launched in July this year but talk across the blogosphere is that Lively hasn’t lived up to expectations. 

From looking quickly at Google Trends (with comparisons to imvu.com, clubpenguin.com and secondlife.com) it’s glaringly obvious that something wasn’t working here. 

Google Trends- lively.com, clubpenguin.com, imvu.com, secondlife.com_1227183027433

What’s of particular interest is that Lively.com is considered a blazen knock-off of imvu (apparently Google tried to buy the company and then when that failed, Google peeled off an imvu founder to lead the Lively project.)

As Jack Schofield wrote

Ahem, isn’t that the sort of thing Microsoft is supposed to do?


Google Waves Yahoo “Google-bye…”

6 November, 2008
Exit Stage Right?

Exit Stage Right?

So, the mega ‘deal’ that Yahoo! struck with Google to get Microsoft off its back has backfired, or if not backfired, at least ‘back-burnered’. Adviking is not one to miss a chance to get on a soapbox, however before we crack open the bubbly  and mull over anti-trust issues of market dominance… we can’t help but feel, regardless of press releases and articles to the contrary, that it leaves Yahoo! on the sidelines and Google smirking at the flimsiness of the competition.

Will Microsoft return to the table? They envy the Yahoo! search traffic for sure, but as Social Media starts to gain more leverage and prominence, will Yahoo! properties lose their lustre somewhat? Their mail app is generally considered to be class-leading (much to Google’s chagrin), but what else have they got?

We can’t help but feel that this will be the case… Google got the Yahoogle out of there and has abandoned ‘Junior’ and, for all the credibility Jerry Yang has left, it can only be a matter of time before there are more movements in this space.

As always, we’ll be watching. In a few years will Yahoo! be Ya-who?


Minimum Bids… Going, Going… GONE

23 September, 2008

Google Has Ended (for the time being) Minimum Bids

Google Turns Around

Google Turns Around

In a move which has escaped much comment (at least on the blogsphere I frequent) Google has dropped Minimum bids. Previously, particularly on popular or competitive keywords, minimum bids meant that you couldn’t just bid a few pence and get an ad published – you had to bid what Google deemed to be an amount worthy of appearing on the esteemed search engine… but not any more.

The Logic For Minimum Bids

The logic seems to be simple – if you have businesses bidding £1+ on keywords, then why allow the user to click on a link for only 5p? Money lost I think… so, if the top bid is £1+, force all the others to bid say 30p to join the queue. More money to Google.

The Fallacy Behind Minimum Bids

Ah, but the rub is this… advertiser resistance and natural listings.

Firstly, with all the tools at their disposal, the bigger spenders know what they are prepared to pay for a visit. They were priced out and rather than doing as Google expected (upping their bids), they resisted such changes turned to other routes to market. Leaving popular search terms rather empty and without choice.

Secondly, because listings became more empty, the natural listings on the pages took greater clickshare.  And as these don’t provide income for Google, the revenues from advertising actually fell on a per page basis.

Surely Not a BackTrack?

Google has bravely taken the bold step of retreating, realising that people prefer choice, both in adverts as well as searches. I expect Yahoo to follow suit once they’ve sorted out catching up with Google on their most recent list of ‘mee toos’. MS Ad Center… er… I don’t think minimum bids is something they have the luxury of indulging in for the next few years.

So long Google minimum bids, I am not sure whether I’m going to miss you or not… must check my Analytics!


Universal Groan Greets Chrome…

2 September, 2008
Google Chrome Suggested Logo

Google Chrome Suggested Logo

Time for a rant, really… it’s not as if Google could resist launching it’s own browser, in fact it’s been barely a secret for months… however we guess we’re not the only ones to give out a huge sigh of disappointment.

What is Chrome going to bring us that Firefox couldn’t, Safari could’ve and Explorer should’ve… ? Very little we expect…

Not content with it’s toolbar taking over the browser population, Google feels it must flex its muscles further and we have little doubt that it will quickly overtake Safari (one month), Firefox (one year) and perhaps eventually Explorer (5 years??) – but what for?

We suggest it will be a trojan horse (but not of the virus-carrying variety) to market and distribute all Google’s ‘Cloud’ services in it’s own managed environment…

I can hear the sound web designers and developers everywhere weeping into their Vanilla Lattes as they cope with yet another browser to deal with. I am sure Google will say that it’s compliant and the most accurate etc. etc. however the reality is that it will add further idiosyncracies and complexity to the design process.

Thankyouverymuch… but we’ll stick with Firefox, thanks.


White Spaces – a new battle ground

18 August, 2008

Google launched a new website this week to help lobby the US FCC on the future of ‘white space’ spectrum. Up here on AdViking mountain we support this campiagn and await the outcome… Related: more about this topic over on the WSJ – that’s worth a read.