Is Google Second-Guessing Itself?

    December 9, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Times are tight. Heck, college professors are having to sell ad space on exam pages to make up for budget cuts. It would make sense that Google would increase the number of ads on its search pages, too, except it’s hard to forget certain executive speeches about fewer ads with better targeting.

So, reports that Google has upped the number of ads on search result pages by 75 percent might be a little jarring at first. Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Valley Insider thinks so, and thinks it has to do with Google “trying to dig up revenues anyway it can” in Q4. Meeting or beating expectations is vital to Google’s stock price, and part of that, in addition to cost-cutting, is more ads in more places.

Is Google Second-Guessing Itself?

At a glance, it appears the spike in ads correlates with the holiday season; it also correlates with the economic downturn, which just happens to come at the worst time of the year. Yes, Q4 of 2007 also showed a peak in the number of ads per page. But, if AdGooroo’s numbers are correct, the number of ads popping up this year reflects a nearly 55 percent spike over last year.

Is Google Second-Guessing Itself?

The jump quintuples the increase seen at Yahoo, and nearly doubles Microsoft’s 4Q increase. This wouldn’t be all that surprising if wasn’t that just last Spring Google waxed about new formulas that better served advertisers and users simultaneously: fewer ads with higher cost-per-click and higher ROI. This was to be the new Google strategy.

But as soon as times got tough, Google seems to have gone back to the old standby: give as many opportunities to click and as many opportunities for advertisers to pay as possible. It’s reasonable to counter that in uncertain times businesses must more aggressively market and promote their wares, hence a spike in advertiser demand for space.

Such demand didn’t faze Google last Spring, though. GOOG didn’t open below $300 back then either. So what gives? Is Google repealing its most recent ad-serving philosophy?