Revealing data from a Wall Street Journal study shows Google is advertising its own products at the top of search results 91% of the time.
Allegedly, Google is bidding against other AdWords customers for the top paid position in search results — and winning. Data from the Wall Street Journal suggests Google is buying millions of its own ads for products like Google Home and Chromebooks, and out-bidding competitors advertising similar products.
Wall Street Journal conducted an analysis of 25,000 searches for various terms, and found that ads for Google products almost always showed up first. Here are some examples:
- “Phones” – primarily led to ads for Google Pixel.
- “Laptops” – primarily led to ads for Chromebooks.
- “Watches” – primarily led to ads for Android smartwatches.
In an effort to be fair to other advertisers, Google has some unique measures in place when it bids for ad positions. According to WSJ, Google’s bidding on search terms does not drive up the cost of those terms for other advertisers.
Advertisers are charged the same whether or not Google is bidding against them. Though with that being said, it can still be argued other advertisers are paying a hefty price for showing up below the search giant.
In the company’s defense, Google says its ads show up first because of the quality of the ad and the amount of money Google is willing to pay for the first position.
Google goes on to say it has a budget when it comes to marketing its own products in search — though one could certainly speculate its marketing budget vastly outweighs that of an average AdWords advertiser.
No matter how you look at it, there is technically nothing wrong what Google is doing. House ads are commonplace in the marketing industry, and Google has every right to pay whatever it wants for its own ads.
A real conflict of interest would be if Google was boosting pages for its own products ahead of others in organic search results, which it doesn’t appear to be doing.
In fact, I even tested some of the search terms mentioned in Wall Street Journal’s article and couldn’t find any significant evidence of Google’s products showing up atop of competitors. Is it possible Google toned down its own advertising following the release of WSJ’s study?