Is Google AdSense Evil?
Interesting opinion from V7N’s John Scott that Google AdSense, which John calls ‘Webmaster Welfare’, has devalued the online advertising impression while serving as an easy fix for web publishers. Scott makes the argument in his blog post, AdSense is Evil!
Google’s initial respectable pay-out rates were simply a way to generate positive buzz in the webmaster circles and send more webmasters their way.
In a matter of months, however, Google lowered the per-click payout so drastically that many webmasters were scrambling to replace Adsense with their previous advertisers, only to find their previous advertisers unwilling to deal with anybody but Google.
It was as if Google had a monopoly on the ad space market; they knew it, and exploited it.
John goes on to compare the devaluing of AdSense eCPM and click thru amounts to the devaluation of other forms of labor.
“Adsense has destroyed the value of the impression and the quality of content on the web. In the past, no self-respecting advertiser would sponsor a scraper site with 1,000,000 pages of crap content, but that is exactly what Google Adsense is doing, and if advertisers get clicks from scraper content, then that’s where their budget goes.“
In my experience, one can do better in some circumstances selling out advertising direct to advertisers, but what AdSense adds to the equation is addition via subtraction : taking away the headaches, time spent, and uncertainty of dealing with media buyers and advertisers directly. AdSense also lets very small publishers turn a buck and pay hosting bills; most of these publishers not knowing zilch when it comes to working with advertisers or site monetization.
AdSense can also be quite easy on the eyes and while some advertisers ask for more graphics, RSS ads, and other added bonuses; AdSense does not.
On the other hand, the value that Google is getting via the tracking of site visitors, referrals, user path behavior and profiling from the serving of AdSense on so many sites, blogs, forums and splogs may be much much more than the click thru value.
Although Google AdSense is probably not evil, there is a point worth mentioning in John’s argument about the devaluing of AdSense which may have a lot to do with the quality of the sites running the Google ad scripts.
With Yahoo Publisher Network being super strict over the sites allowed to show their advertiser messages and MSN adCenter launching today one has to wonder if Google will address the types of sites running AdSense with an eye on the devaluing of their ads, and their grasp of the contextual advertising market.