Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Stopped Using Google AdWords; Google's Squeezing Money From Me

I've been in the Internet Online Media business for almost five years now, and one of the most rewarding discoveries for me was Google AdWords combined with Google AdSense. When I first used the two, AdSense clicks allowed me to pay for the AdWords ad campaigns I started. I've made as much as $400 in one day using AdSense when I first started in the program. But then I watched as my once rewarding returns dwindled.

This year, and for the first time, Google AdWords was more expensive than the revenue my company gained from Google AdSense. In fact, it was so wildly out of balance I cancelled Google AdWords.

I'm no longer a fan of the program. Google has changed this aspect of its business model, and it's for the worst, in my view.

Google's increased the price of keywords at the same time it's scaled back the payouts for AdSense publishers. The result is more money for Google, and less money for the small business operators that use Google AdSense. Meanwhile more people continue to sign up for the program because Google's the leading search engine. Everyone uses it, so business people believe they must be part of it.

I don't mind Google tweaking its program a little bit, but they've gone way too far in "allowing the market" to price keywords. I mean, who determines what the market is, anyway? Let's think about this. If Google takes about 50 percent of the traffic for search engines, and Google determines keyword prices, then it's Google that's the market, and that's not fair at all.

A better system would be a stock market for keywords. I mean a formal one; not the informal system that exists today. This keyword stock market would be separate from any search engine and set prices that are equally weighted based on all search engines, thus not allowing one company, Google, to "up" keyword prices to their advantage.

Right now, Google has the control of the market. In fact, it's not even right to call it a market, because that term implies fairness. There's nothing fair about this keyword pricing problem, and there's no real market behind prices, there's just Google. In other words, Google's has near-monopolistic control over keyword prices.

I know that's a major charge, but consider that Google controls by my estimate between 60 percent and 80 percent of the keyword market, based just on the number of results that reference Google when one is trying to determine what the "keyword market" is.

Even with Google, the entire affair is a trip to the wild West, with SEO firms, marketing agencies, and others posting articles about keywords only to get you to hire them as a consultant. There's no real clearing house at all. And other firms like Yahoo, with Yahoo Publisher, are so slow to respond to an application one submits, you wonder if anyone's minding the store. !

So there's really nothing out there...except Google, and I'm running away from AdWords, but I'll stick to AdSense. It's the only way to recover the money Google's taken from me.