Random Scams Won't Take Down Google

from the nice-try,-though dept

Three years ago, reporter Tom Foremski tossed out his idea for how Microsoft could kill Google in an underhanded way: offer $100 million to whoever clicked on a random Google ad. The trick would be that no one (other than the person administering the prize at Microsoft) would know what the ad is. Foremski’s theory was that this would lead to massive clickfraud and anger from Google advertisers. Of course, there are a lot of assumptions in there that likely wouldn’t hold up in a real world test (with the biggest being that the whole deal would stop working the second someone “won”). However, now we’ve got Mark Cuban tossing out a suggestion for how to take down Google that seems to come from the same “wishful thinking” playbook. Cuban’s idea is that Microsoft (with Yahoo) should offer to pay the top 100,000 sites in Google to get them to remove themselves from Google, and agree to be “exclusively” in the Yahoo/Microsoft listing. The idea is that the money would serve to pay for the lost traffic from Google — but that’s highly speculative.

If Microsoft actually tried this, it would be quite difficult for the Justice Department not to call an antitrust foul, first of all. But, at a more practical level, it just wouldn’t work. It’s based on the false premise that those top 100k sites are really the only sites that matter. If they all disappeared from Google’s index, another 100k would quickly fill in to replace them. In fact, it would get more and more difficult to convince sites to leave Google’s index, since the competition for clicks would get easier and easier as others did leave. On top of that, if this actually did happen, my guess is Google would continue to index those sites anyway forcing some sort of court battle over whether or not a site can actually block a search engine from spidering it entirely. These sorts of ideas are fun to think about, but once you think past the basic idea, it’s not hard to recognize why the scams would never work. Beating Google is never going to be about a scam.

Now, I should add that I started writing up this post last night. This morning, the news came out that Cuban is included on the board slate that Carl Icahn has put up to try to force Yahoo to sell to Microsoft. The timing, obviously, is no coincidence. Cuban’s blog post went up just hours before he was revealed to be a potential board member. However, just because this could, conceivably, put Cuban in a position to actually push Microsoft/Yahoo to implement such a plan, it doesn’t make it any more viable. In fact, it makes it that much more questionable.

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Companies: google, microsoft, yahoo

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Comments on “Random Scams Won't Take Down Google”

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Tim says:

But you could...

take some of the wind out of google’s sails (sales) by setting up a rewards program. Give away points and random prizes (like a zune for instance) for searching on MSN or Yahoo! bolstered by an advertising campaign telling people about it. Of course, they’d have to watch the click fraud aspect on their side (which if discovered, could be a way to demonstrate how Google is fraudulently costing people $), but if the ad campaign was big enough and soaked up enough of the other advertising mediums, could they move the needle. Then if the eyeballs started to move, the advertisers would move to. Now that’s a Mark Cuban-esque idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let them do it

Like Microsoft needs any more help screwing itself. It’s done fine the last decade or two, but no. Lets do this truely asinine idea.

I know this is a US oriented site, but it has global affects. The EU wouldn’t find it difficult at all to punish the bajesus out of Microhoo if they did this. EU already will probabyl have an issue with Microsoft buying Yahoo.

c0d3gr1 says:

Since the term “googled” is now part of the american language, even with people that are not technical. (ie I googled you today. Did you google that?)

I would seriously doubt that anyone would want to be elimited from a google search. And if they did, it would almost seem like they were trying to hide something, not take down Google.

Microsoft seems to be running low on take-over ideas.

evgen says:

Content is not a fungible good.

The idea that if the top 100k sites disappeared from google another 100k would replace them is based upon the mistaken assumption that all content is interchangeable. Yes, if techdirt disappeared another site would quickly step in to fill its niche, but if wikipedia left google’s index then people would notice very quickly. Middlemen (e.g. aggregation sites like this one, digg, slashdot, etc) are easily replaced, but original content is not as easy to find. If the sites with high pagerank disappear you are also left with the problem that spam sites become a much larger percentage of what is left over.

Eventually the content producers are going to wake up and realize that they hold a significant bargaining chip in discussions with search engines…

sonofdot says:

Exactly how much?

Exactly how much does Mr. Cuban think they should pay each of these sites to disappear and lose a substantial portion of their business? Frankly, for most people, if it ain’t on Google, it doesn’t exist. Just because he became a billionaire at 30 doesn’t make him smart. And this kind of thinking (is this really thinking?) just proves it.

evgen says:

Re: Exactly how much?

What if Cuban offered these sites 200% of their current adwords revenue for a 12 month exclusive? The reason people think that “if it ain’t on Google, it doesn’t exist” is because Google can link to the sites they are looking for. After a year of “if it ain’t on Google I better check on site X because they have all the useful stuff” where do you think Google will be? This is a particularly devious strategy for someone like Yahoo to try because: a) none of their other ideas have worked and, b) unlike Google they actually pull in revenue from more than search. It might be a pyrrhic victory by destroying the revenue from search advertising, but if you can’t win in that particular market it is not too radical of an idea to consider nuking the whole market from orbit…

Jake says:

Re: Re: Exactly how much?

If Yahoo and Microsoft are that desperate -not to mention nihilistic, spiteful and petty- they might as well hire someone to set fire to Google’s corporate headquarters or send mail-bombs to the Board of Directors.
You know, I really wish I had enough faith left in humanity to be totally certain they actually won’t.

Chris says:

What motivates businesses to change?

I dont think businesses would cannibalize their income for one flat fee to favor another company’s search engine which may not even give them as many financial benefits. Who knows, those companies who would accept such a deal may alienate a sector of customers causing a drop in profits. It would be a gamble i wouldn’t take if i were a business owner.

Nate (user link) says:


Why would a company leave google if they were in the top 100,000 sites listed? If they are that far up in the billions of sites out there, they are probably doing very well. M$/Yahoo would have to offer them an extremely large amount of money to even make the thought of removing your site from the top of the MOST SUCCESFUL search engine in the world. http://www.custompcmax.com

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