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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Googlism & Revised Commandments

Sunday, December 30, 2012
Panda, Penguin & Pigs?
A frequent policy [commandments] change by Google reminds me of a satirical novella ‘The Animal Farm’ by George Orwell that illustrates how Napoleon and his pigs shrugged off accusations for breaking the law, and revised the original commandments in their favor to continue exercising their privileges to face off  any sort of rebellion from other animals in the farm.

Google Original Commandment (GOC): In 2004, one among several others Google’s commandments was “the non-acceptance of payment” for search results. Founders’ IPO letter  reads “we do not accept payment for them [search results] or for inclusion or more frequent updating.”

Revised Commandment: On May 31, 2012, Google has revised the policy and   announces shopping results will be paid for and exclude merchants who don't participate.

GOC: “We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly.”

Violation of Commandment: The recent attack on Google by Bing entitled ‘Scroogled’ shows how Google Shopping shows paid ads within shopping results without letting users clearly identify the commercial listings. If Danny Sullivan justifies by claiming that Google, at least, shows ‘Sponsored’ disclaimer while Bing does not, I’m little less convinced how his counter-argument holds water. The disclaimer itself is not VERY CLEAR, and common users hardly even notice this. It could be either intentional or an experiment as usual the search engine does. What Danny has shared the screenshot makes less sense for common users than the below screenshot, which Google shows on this particular search query –“Tig Welder”. Compare Danny’s shared screenshot here versus the below one, and judge yourself.  

Here, I stand by Bing for exposing Google on this, which is indeed unclear, and common users can’t distinguish’ a paid versus organic listing.  

GOC:We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see."

Revised Commandment - Google's 2012 SEC Disclosure says "after all, ads are just more answers to users' queries."           

GOC: “We display ads. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers' payments.”  

Further, Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page say “advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.”  

Violation of Commandment: The most important factor that matters for the top display of an advt. on SERP is ‘high bidding’. Quality Score, CTR, popularity, etc. make less sense for Google. There are many who have written how Google makes us bid higher on AdWords. Many advertisers call Google search criminal. New York Times reports “Being big is no crime, but if a powerful company uses market muscle to stifle competition, that is an antitrust violation.”

There is difference in what Google says versus what it practices in reality. 

There are many instances to support my claim. However, I’d briefly share a few that may justify the above statement.

January 19, 2012 - According to Matt Cutts, if you have too many ads on your site you are not providing good user experience. My question to Matt -what about showing irrelevant ads and more ads (on top, right hand side, shopping ads, and ads below the search result page)? What about ads within ads (, for example)? Do they give good users’ search experience?  

April 30, 2012 -Google officially publishes a post in favor of responsive design with a set of guidelines, and shared with us some examples of responsive design. One of the examples is Why not Why is still not responsive design? The purpose is clear. It affects their ads listing space. May be, Google introduces this in coming days. It would be then interesting to see how advt. is shown in a responsive Google search site!

Not sure if Google bias is insidious or lopsided but there are instances that witness a consistent amendment in Google’s commandments all in their favor. First, they indulge, and when they get caught; they change the ‘RULE’, which I believe, is analogous to Orwell’s novel characters Napoleon and his pigs! What do you say?


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