More Talk of Google Evil

Thread Title:
AdSense (Continued)
Thread Description:

Yesterday we reported on Fred WIlson's disclosure of Adsense earnings. Doing this is strictly against their TOS.

Today Fred comments on the TOS, calling it evil, and warning that all large corporations are eventually humbled and advising them to listen to their customers.

Talking about Battelle's comments on Adsense TOS including not being able to run another network alongside Adsense he said:

It is nuts. And it is evil and violates one of the core values of Google. And it should be put to rest asap.

Who do they think they are anyway? I am creating the content that brings the audience. If I want to run one, two, or three ad networks, they should be fine with that. And eventually they will be.

As my kids say, "who made you the boss of the world"?

Can you say backlash? tick tock, tick tock....


sorry I'm gonna defend Google

(please don't hurt me too bad)

Google is not, in general, evil. I'm actually embarassed to be arguing on the same side as some of the idiots who're against AutoLink having read some of the crap they're coming out with, mostly about Gmail.

Adsense is an advertising network who happens to say in it's TOS that you shouldn't discuss your income levels and you shouldn't use other ads on your site. So agree or don't agree. There are a load of other ways you can put ads on your site and earn ppc revenue, but most of them are a little more work. The reason Google can set terms like this is because Adsense makes it easy and if you want it easy you agree the terms. There's nothing, absolutely nothing, evil about that.

And Gmail, if I read one more whing about Gmail being evil because it reads your mail..... again, if you want to sign up for an e-mail account which gives huge storage for free and in return pings a few ads at you based on an algo then accept the T&C. It isn't like the terms were unclear when you signed up. If you don't want targetted ads ad would prefer untargetted ones there are a lot of other free e-mail accounts out there - use one.

Autolink is different because it doesn't allow an opt out for all parties involved. Autolink is still not evil, but it's immoral. No there is NO comparison to Google serving ads against an e-mail from a sender to a g-mail account because firstly the ads aren't inline and secondly there is an opt-out for people sending to gmail which is not to do it.

Google is a business who are probably now regretting ever having uttered the phrase "don't be evil". What they're doing is standard business but they've historically done it very cleverly and there's a bunch of muppets who for some reason think Google's their best mate and has always been doing this stuff just to give them free searches. Well Kermit, even Fozzy wanted something in return.

Ok. Rant over. Deep breaths. I will never read another blog post which starts "What has happened to Google?"

Fred Wilson did break Google's TOS

...whether you agree with the sort of TOS they make you sign, he did sign up for it.

Now he has broken their non-disclosure in a high profile way. Interesting to see how they react to his disclosures in particular. Battelle chronicled his own run in with AdSense in September over TOS.

But I am still shaking my head over Fred making only $500 in a year from AdSense! Looks as if Nick can cross AdSense off his ways to monetarise TW!

Knowing Google' s M.O. a bit...

...I guess they'll tell Fred to remove the offending stuff ("No harm done"), then cut him from Adsense and ban his pages two days later.

Just a hunch of course...


Way to public...

Google is, IMO, desperately behind in some of it's practices and policies. If a normal webmaster were to throw out his adsense figures on a webmaster forum, he'd be toast.

Now we have bloggers. We have people new to the business of publishing on the web, and guess what? Some of them are very popular. Blogs have an enormous collective voice and im not sure Google really grasps that concept yet.

  • What's going to happen when one of these blog networks trips an algo and the whole lot gets nuked?
  • How long will it be before one of these guys builds or promotes a link tool?
  • What if they were to discover that hundreds of thousands of small business websites get wiped out in collateral damage from G algo tweaks?

If/when the bloggers are faced with some of the things we've all faced and discussed for years now there will be a show down...

Ivory Tower

From where I sit Google seems to have ivory tower complex. They sit up there high and mighty making proclamations and decisions, ignoring any legitimate and direct concerns and questions from the people. From their blog you would think the world is wonderful place.

If you look at MSN's when they had that fake blog misinterpretation, at least they reacted to it.

So, we’ve been reading some interesting posts lately about MSN Found. It seems that people are taking us a bit too seriously and have a not-so-accurate perception about what it’s really about. The campaign is simply meant to be an alternative way to entertain people and let them know about MSN Search. The pages aren’t supposed to be “blogs” but are character pages – this is a fictional search “opera,” told through a narrative of the characters.

They put out the fire quickly and calmly and got back to business. Google on the other hand is ignoring the problems at hand, giving them a perfect opportunity to grow from a small brush fire into a massive forest fire.

IMO we should be careful... present a legitimate gripe about autolink and not get hung up on the side issues about gmail or the adsense TOS.

gmail is opt-in
adsense is opt-in is opt-in
even their 38 year cookie thing is opt-in in a way

Autolink is what needs to be defeated, that's what takes customers away from our sites and puts them on who Google sees fit. That's what is going to eventually put smarttags back in MSIE.

BTW, I've read that Microsoft has the patent on smarttag technology, that suggests that Google is doing this with Microsoft's permission. Now why would Microsoft give Google permission?

Whose option?

I don't want to dilute the discussion, but
AdSense is opt-in for the site owner, not the user is opt-in for the user, opt-out for the site owner
The cookie and gmail I won't argue with
AutoLink is opt-in for the user, and at best can be fought by the site owner. In fact, it's triple opt-in:
1) Download the toolbar
2) Click the autolink button on the toolbar
3) Click the link the toolbar created

So while I agree that autolink sucks and all that other stuff is fine, it really is a matter of perspective.


okay, it is opt-in for the users, but not for the publishers.

everything is opt in for the user

the user has the right to choose to visit, stay on and buy from my site. Or not.

If I put adsense on my sites and visitors would rather not use sites with adsense, then they can leave and find another site (I don't want them to but they have that option).

That's all true

I'm just trying to see the other side. I want to be as objective about this as I can and still come to the same conclusion.

Mixed feelings about AdSense

I use AdSense on my sites.

I can understand why Google initially forbid the use of competitive network ads on the same page as AdSense stuff: Google was aiming for a decent user experience (and wanting to avoid tarnishment of the Google brand) by banning sites from having an AdSense banner and 10 flashy shock-the-monkey banners on the same page. Google didn't want to be associated with that sort of 98%-ad-filled-page crap.

However, now that Google permits multiple AdSense blocks per page, I think they should loosen or refine their anti-competitive clause to something like:

"You may not display AdSense ads on a site which, in our discretion, presents pages containing more than 20% ad copy by size (from AdSense or other sites). This is to encourage a good user experience and also avoid the tarnishment of our brand."

Additionally, I understand the rationale behind Google's hugh-hush'ness of AdSense terms. They don't want a Webmaster saying "Hey, on my site about [foo], I make an average of $50 per page per month on AdSense! [foo] must be a really hot term for AdSense"... and then lots of people would try to @#&! with the AdSense system by making lots of [foo] gateway pages, screwing advertisers and Google. This is, of course, already done to some extent (can anyone, er spell, mesothelemia?), but you get my point.

I suppose one could argue that the secrecy is intended to also thwart people from figuring out what the publisher cut is, or how Google's payments compare to other ad networks, but I personally think my above rationale is more sound.

On the whole, then, I believe some of the AdSense rules that frustrate Webmasters are in place not out of primarily Google Greediness, but rather out of Google's (perhaps rather untargeted) interests in protecting the user and protecting the Google brand.

Not correct adam

>by banning sites from having an AdSense banner and 10 flashy shock-the-monkey banners on the same page.

That wasn't the case at all, those sites were fine it was specifically similar ads to adsense that you couldn't run at all. If I were them I would do that too, I don't think that makes them evil just sound businessmen.

It was both, actually

Sites were denied from having too much ad content, not just similar ad content (though you're right, that was also a restriction).

And with the restriction you describe... yeah, I'd agree with your assessment. Comes back to brand tarnishment again, if there's confusion. I do know that when I wrote Google for clarifications, they indeed responded that having affiliate ads (even text-based) on the same page as the AdSense stuff was okay long as users weren't likely to interpret the non-Google text ads as AdSense stuff.

[i](can anyone, er spell, mes

(can anyone, er spell, mesothelemia?)

Mesothelioma, I believe. ;-)

Personally, I think this particular whine is just taking potshots at the big guy... if you don't like the TOS, don't sign it, and use another ad network.

It just feels like the same "Google owes me" attitude you always see in "Google dropped my spammy site, no fair," posts that flood other webmaster forums these days.

my point of view

If your page was of any value would you pimp it to G for pennies on the dollar? Hmm I don't think so. I'm sick of hearing people complain about adsense because it doesn't generate enough to cover your house payment. :) Cover hosting? yes. Cover bandwidth cost? yes. Pay for the mortgage? No.

Maybe the other banners + adsense would cover the mortgage and that's what all the fuss is about. :)

no necessarily...

...I know people who's adsense pays the mortgage. But it's not like they stuck ads on their personal blog and sit back while the money rolls in.

And maybe they have very small houses?

For AdSense to pay the mortgage of my friends' houses here in San Francisco, it'd be a minor miracle. Nay, a major miracle!

But I digress. :)


Sure, if you live in one of the most overpriced housing markets in the world, it might be a little harder. ;-)

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