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BizReport : Search Marketing : July 10, 2015

Expert: Is Google gaming algorithms?

According to a recent academic paper, led in part by the Yelp data science team, Google may be gaming its search algorithm to favor its own web properties. BizReport recently reached out to Jamie Hill, Chairman & CEO of adMarketplace, to hear his thoughts about how this affects the search space.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What are your initial reactions to this study? Do you think the study is accurate?

Jamie Hill, Chairman & CEO, adMarketplace: It wouldn't surprise me if Google was altering its organic listings. Google is burning the furniture to keep up its 20 percent year-over-year growth and keep its stock afloat. In spite of all its efforts, Google is still one trick pony. YouTube does $4 billion in revenue. Core search is almost $40 billion! Search is its bread and butter and it needs a way to grow.
Google has done things like this before. It used to have contracts with software companies to make Google the default search engine in various browsers. That worked for a while but now it needs new ways to keep expanding its ad revenue. The company can do this either by using its own property, as the study suggests, or by promoting publishers with favorable ads. That's a study I'd really like to see because it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that Google is favoring partner network publishers that serve AdWords ads and drive a lot of revenue. It's a daisy chain of clicks.

Kristina: How should advertisers react?

Jamie: Brand advertisers that are used to getting good traffic from organic listings may see that traffic drop off. This is going to force some brands to buy brand-term search ads on Advertisers already running an extensive Google campaign don't have much to worry about though.

Kristina: How should website owners react?

Jamie: The owners of web properties who are losing SERP space should be furious. Google is the Internet's number one navigation tool, and it is manipulating results to suit its own needs. Google is becoming an ad engine.

Kristina: What about the users?

Jamie: Google became the largest search engine because of its ability to create a user experience that gave users unparalleled access to relevant results. By blurring the line between organic and sponsored content, Google is diminishing its value to the user. That's something users are increasingly aware of. Ultimately though, as long as enough users keep clicking the Google product listings, Google will have no incentive to move them off the top spots.

Kristina: Will this have an immediate affect on Google's search advertising business?

Jamie: In the short term, it's likely a boon to search revenue. In fact, that is almost certainly the driving force. Forcing non-Google brands below the fold will force advertisers to buy up ad space. Google may be able to drive more clicks and higher CPCs in the short term to bolster growth and keep share prices rising.

Kristina: What about the long term effect?

Jamie: Overall, moves like this may hurt Google's reputation, and may start to make the search giant less relevant. It really depends on the relevancy of Google's products. If Google is going to use its search engine to force its own products on users, it better be pushing more products like maps, and less like Plus. Bad products may cause users to lose faith, and once users lose faith - they stop trusting that Google will always deliver the most relevant results - they will start going to other engines, or searching in different ways through apps and direct navigation. We're already witnessing the fragmentation of search, and if more users lose faith in the most popular search engine, we will see even more fragmentation.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: adMarketplace, google, search marketing, search marketing trends

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  • Stacy

    Know the phrase "fake it till you make it"? Jamie Hill definitely took this approach to the next level. He knows nothing about technology and therefore Admarketplace has the lousiest ad technology I've ever seen. He holds the worst business ethics you can possibly imagine. He lied so many times to anyone he works with that I wouldn't believe a word that is coming out of his mouth. Stay away from him and his company!



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