Google and the Tragedy of the Commons

Don’t get me wrong, I love Google. I remember quite clearly what it was like surfing the net in the 90s. Finding what you were looking for was often really hard. Google was absolutely the key to unlocking information quickly and we loved it. Years ago, when I started advertising with them, I loved them even more. While Google gets their money from advertisers, it has always been on the side of the search user. Fanatically so. Over the past few years they have made countless changes to the rules advertisers must follow to be qualified the give them money.

They were the first to use your click through rate when deciding on your bid pricing. They were the first to consider the relevancy of the landing page. They punished campaigns with single page landers. They’ve changed a lot, but now, they have set the bar too high for most advertisers. Recently they stated that they will be considering landing load times when determining your quality score. Ok, I get it, another update. But when is enough, enough? What’s awful about all these updates is that somewhere along the way Google lost site of the small guy. Just about every day I hear from people with horror stories:

“I tried advertising on Google, but they wanted $10 a click. There is no way I can afford that.”

Its not that Google really is charging $10 per click. They are just telling you that “something” is wrong in your campaign or your web site. The tables are getting tilted again. The big sites with the big budgets and the big servers are less affected by all these changes than the huge base of small advertisers. And that is a shame. You shouldn’t have to be a technology and advertising guru to send a little traffic to your web site.

This is the tragedy of Google’s success. In fearlessly championing the search user, they are now pushing out many of the very businesses that helps catapult them to their huge success. One thing is for sure, it’s not getting any easier for the little guy.

What do you think? Have you been cut down by the big G?

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  1. Charles Brian Quinn March 31, 2008

    Charles, you nailed it. I’m a relatively smart, savvy, tech guy, and I build web applications for a living. But, you’re right, the Google Dance is confusing to me, and getting all the more complicated.

    Count +1 for being cut down by the big G.

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