Three quick thoughts on Google AdSense changes

by greg on April 25, 2005

I’ve got no time for detail on Monday mornings, but on the introduction of site targetting, CPM-based bidding, and animated advertisements by Google (see Charlene Li for detail):

1) I suspect most AdWords buyers’ Google Network traffic comes from AdSense for Search users, who aren’t affected by this. If your low-converting source of traffic’s using AdSense for Search, you’re still not able to shut them and only them off.

2) Google initially promoted its text-based ads as more useful to the viewer than the typical banner ad, since the text-based ads were based on the site’s content. With the introduction of CPM-based advertising targetted to a specific site, this advantage for the viewer disappears. Instead of seeing a variety of unobtrustive resources related to the page, the viewer sees a single branding-related animation.

3) Publishers using AdSense not as a sole revenue stream but to supplement their own offerings now have to watch their blocklists like a hawk. It’s bad enough when a new competitor sneaks in and gets untargetted text ads on your site. Now your competitors have the opportunity to target your site and your site alone with an animated banner ad. “Hey, Shopping Site X users! Haven’t you heard that Shopping Site Y is better?”

While ad buyers might be rejoicing, I can’t help but think that these changes bring Google just a bit closer to DoubleClick. By allowing ad buyers to target sites based on CPM and not worrying about the targetted advertisements’ conversion, Google will end up sending less-relevant advertising to the viewer. That’s exactly the opposite direction it should be heading; sharp companies need to find ways to deliver more-relevant advertising, not less.

UPDATE: WebmasterWorld confirms my suspicions – the webmasters there are already complaining about irrelevant ads on their pages. It seems a purple-colored heartburn medication has been buying up CPM inventory on a number of technology-related sites. Don’t I get enough drug spam on the television and in my e-mail in-box? Elsewhere, Tony Gentile points out that Google’s now competing directly with every company’s internal CPM sales team. John Battelle independently came up with a ‘Google as DoubleClick’ comparison. And I just realized I did a search for a particular purple-colored heartburn medication with Google’s My Search History turned on… doh! Time to go delete that puppy quick…

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