Google Conspiracy Theories

from the is-that-the-best-you-can-do? dept

It seems like, these days, everyone likes to have their pet conspiracy theory about Google (and, of course, it needs to include something about how they’re “evil” as well). So, along with the stories about their new VPN software, there were stories about how Google was getting ready to own all of your internet traffic so they could spy on you. That’s not to say that Google might no be doing (or eventually) do things that are questionable — but shouldn’t people generally have a bit more evidence before everyone goes out accusing them of stuff? Take, for example, Robert Cringely’s latest column that accuses Google of specifically mucking with the performance of AdWords ads after an advertiser lowers the price per click. The claim is that as soon as you lower how much you want to pay as a maximum per click, Google will “cut off one of your legs,” lower your click throughs and force you to pump the money back up. There are a number of mistakes in the article concerning how Google’s ad program works, but we’ll leave those aside for now. The basis of his argument is one advertiser (sample size problem, anyone?) who ran an experiment with two identical sites — one an existing, established e-commerce business, and one that he set up specifically as a copycat to test this out. Cringely claims that the “only difference” between the two sets of ads is how Google treated them, but that’s not true. One of the sites was quite established, and so Google has a long history of how the ads to that site performs. The other was new and had no such history. Considering that Google takes into account ad performance in how it positions the ads, it seems like that could be playing a factor here as well. I’m sure others who are much more involved in the Google AdWords world may have other theories as well — but it still seems like a stretch to immediately jump to the conclusion that Google is specifically punishing anyone who lowers their ad bids.

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Comments on “Google Conspiracy Theories”

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rightnumberone (user link) says:

No Subject Given

I think the analogy to Las Vegas is quite apt with Google Adwords and all other similar programs.

Google will tell you nothing (except, of course, pay us more!). It would be like a newspaper telling an advertiser that, if you pay us more, you’ll get better placement in the newspaper, but we won’t tell you HOW MUCH BETTER placement, and we won’t tell you HOW MUCH MORE your competitor paid us to get HIM better placement than YOU, and we won’t tell you how many subscribers we have, and we won’t tell you how much your advertising budget is going to be so that you can plan effectively!

Cringely, also, fails the test of a good reporter. There seems to have been no effort to contact Google prior to this story having been written. For one of the premiere and most widely-read technology authors on the internet – this represents a significant breach of journalistic ethics.

If you’re going to suggest that a company is not unethical, but then suggest that they are EVIL, seems to be you’d at least give them a chance to say, “No Comment.”

paisley (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Google isn’t going to prove or dis-prove his theory, they don’t work that way… Do empirical experiments across multiple “equal” websites to learn how it works.. and oh… it changes every thursday and saturday now.. it used to be Sunday and Tuesday but they moved the re-indexing schedule about 3 weeks ago. Google charges you on how many clicks you get on an ad… unlike a newspaper which CANNOT measure how many people actually saw your advertisement. Which in Google is called an “impression” which they also measure, again unlike a newspaper.

paisley (user link) says:

Cringly's article

Another example of someone ill informed trying to figure out Google. His hypothesis is ALL wrong. Not too mention the time period of creating a “new” site with a New URL, blowing out an AdWord bid. (Google notices if you surpass the highest bid by more than .25 or if a bid drops by more than .10), most people just DON’T DO IT! unless of course they are bid-jacking which usually takes about 2 weeks for an ad to be penalized.. (how long at $1.00?), not to mention the “new” site would have a PR of 0.

too many variables… take the SAME two sites who have been indexed for the same amount of time, have the same click-thru rates on the organic section of Google the same amount of pages with unique content that has the same keyword count. then maybe you could even come close to an “experiment” this guy is repeating what some idiot reliant on PPC “thinks” he knows.

Anons Anonymous says:

The best way to describe this

is with the word, “HYSTERIA”.

“Oh google,google,google,google,google DOT COM!
“So terrible,evil,wicked,satan,bad,bad,bad!”

People get caught-up in the emotion of this train of thought (“google is bad”) that seems to be endlessly repeated. Then they readily jump to conclusion about tiny shreds of supposed “evidence” that might back it up.

There seems to be a real and tangible lack of critical thinking in the world today. In a way, this reminds me of some points made in an interesting article I was sent yesterday:

Allan Michael says:

Google conspiracy.

September 23, 2005
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

I has been my observation that all of these high volume servers are simply responding to the needs of their clients. That means the needs of both the average home web surfer as well as the corporate advertiser. Google, in my opinion, is doing a dammed good job of it and if they start to included practices that offend me I have the option of switching to another server. Furthermore, both google and their advertisers know this and are likely not willing to gamble with my product loyalty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cant everyone just love google

“but shouldn’t people generally have a bit more evidence before everyone goes out accusing them of stuff?”

Yeah, right. Dont accuse them of stuff until you have absolute proof. One of the most secretive organizations cannot do evil even if they appear to do evil at every turn, and we are supposed to ignore it until we find the smoking gun?

Mike obviously will never see anything wrong with google since they write his paycheck these days.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Cant everyone just love google

Mike obviously will never see anything wrong with google since they write his paycheck these days.

Why I love the web. We criticize Google and people scream that we’re morons. We don’t criticize Google and people tell us we’re morons. Look, we say what we think no matter what’s going on. It’s just that this “conspiracy theory” rings hollow. When they do something bad, we’ll be the first to say it. For example, as we said, Google Talk is pretty lame. Also not particulary impressed with the Google blog search.

rollins says:

It's more of a follow up on another articles.

The article was connected to the one above. And I had the same problem with google. Trying to sell a very relevant specialty product, I was asked for a dollar a click, while unrelated things obviously weren’t paying that much.

Hard to escape the conclusion that Google isn’t quite what their public person would have you think – they’re closing off the Internet to the little guy as much as anybody.

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