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Google’s Ads: Less Is More?

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Ads are a necessary part of the Internet experience, but they have an undeniable power to annoy and frustrate.  So when Google’s results pages seem a little less cluttered than those of its competitors, we breathe a collective sigh of relief without another thought.  Yet as Robert Scoble points out, this clean presentation may be influenced by a keen business sense as much as it is by kindness.

The idea stems from our ability to block out all sorts of stuff that we deem unnecessary; when we’re bombarded with ads, we tend to consider them precisely that.  But fewer ads – and, just as importantly, more relevant ads – can capture users’ attention.

Scoble was introduced to this concept by an anonymous Google employee.  “Google has done a lot of research with users and found that fewer ads mean less revenue SHORT TERM,” the nameless Googler revealed.  “But long term the advertising revenue actually goes up.  Why?  They found their users started trusting the advertising more and were more likely to click on ads.”

Scoble then shared some research he’d done on the matter.  For most queries, Google did indeed subject him to fewer ads than Yahoo and Live.com, and the ads were also more relevant (Live tried to direct Scoble to the InterContinental Hotel when he asked about San Francisco sushi).

So we wind up with a win-win-win situation.  “Google’s pages look cleaner, more relevant, advertisers are happier (fewer accidental clicks that they have to pay for), and it sets the stage for the new pay-per-action plan,” Scoble wrote.  And add one more “win” to that list – users don’t have to view quite as many ads.

Google’s Ads: Less Is More?
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  • Holger Kamin

    * Google and the affiliate networks can and will co-exist. The affiliate market is completely different than simply PPC or PPA models. Lifetime for subscriptions, Views, etc in addition to the creative possibilities… so it is by no means obvious that Google will be a serious challenger here – or that it even wants to.
    * Google’s PPA offering is great for smaller publishers who are already using AdSense right now anyway.
    * Larger advertisers want much more control and support than Google is offering. That’s where affiliate networks excel and are clearly superior.
    * Making affiliate marketing successful is about more than technology – it takes hard work and a hands-on approach, and that’s not Google’s style.
    * Speaking of technology though, affiliate networks have developed highly sophisticated tracking systems that cover the vast majority of possible scenarios to make sure that partners/affiliates get paid for every qualified lead, sale, or whatever the commission model might be. Does Google have this level of sophistication in its tracking?
    * Another point here is the scalability of various channels called multi-channel marketing. The today’s sophistication of networs enables some players to manage all possible online marketing partnerships. This alone differs significantly from Google’s overal objectives. Here I see them indeed making a pitch for an affiliate network, not only to get the horizontal reach but also to benefit from their overal know how.