Less is more, says Google

Google ad revenues were not as big as analysts had expected this quarter.

Google did that on purpose They decided to REDUCE their advertising coverage – i.e. show their ads on FEWER pages than they could have. Here’s from an intriguing report on their earnings:

“Some of the softness in Google’s advertising revenue, moreover, was self-inflicted. Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s senior vice president for product management, said that Google had chosen to reduce its advertising coverage — the percentage of Web pages on which it displays advertising — to an all-time low.

That’s a puzzling decision on the surface. Virtually any other company facing slow economic times would be interested in increasing the places in which it could sell ads. It certainly wouldn’t take steps to reduce them.

But Mr. Rosenberg said that Google has no plans to increase its coverage because of its efforts to improve what it calls “ad quality” — the idea that Google should only show ads that users actually like. Mr. Rosenberg said that the company’s co-founder, Larry Page, would like to see even fewer ads.

“Larry often says we would be better off if we showed one ad — the perfect ad,” said Mr. Rosenberg. Mr. Page was not on the conference call to speak for himself.

Where are they looking to increase their income? Yes, but not by MORE ads, no.

Google developed technology that helped increase its revenue from advertising (largely by finding ads that are more interesting to users).

More interesting ads work better for everyone.

Users click more readily, and advertisers are happy to pay because they’re getting results and customers. Net result: FEWER but more interesting ads. Wahoo!!!

Next trick: What is an interesting ad?

Hint: the less hype, the better. No one but the most naive people believe those anymore. Mostly wasted clicks followed by your wasted time or wasted samples shipped to people who won’t pick up the phone when you call to follow up.

Ads with big and easy income promises are not interesting to folks who are looking for something to throw themselves into.

So what might an interesting ad look like? Samples anyone?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • It doesn’t matter how interesting your ad is, if you are out there screaming it at people or showing it every time they turn around, people will ignore it.

    Think back and remember a song you liked when it came out. Then the radio station played it over and over and over and eventually you said “I’m so sick of this song”.

    You got bombarded with it and ended up getting sick of it. I love crab stuffed mushrooms. However, I only get them on my birthday at my favorite restaurant in NY. If I had a personal chef that made them every day, I would get sick of them.

    So, instead of wasting time and money on ads to try to compete with all of the screaming, hypy ones out there, why not focus in a different direction?

    Focus on creating relationships with people and giving them value. What an interesting concept. Give value to others (FOR FREE) and expect nothing in return. Those who like what you have to offer and who want to join a business will ask you about yours.

    Roxanne Green

  • Ads on Google have done well because people are looking for certain kinds of things when they’re nosing around online. So the Google ads have been and are extremely useful. Because they’re contextual and are related to topics people are already searching.

    The fact that they’re looking to have fewer, and better more interesting ads is a first. Given they make more money than anyone else in the history of advertising, this is a big move and I hope others follow.

    Ads are a first date. That little bit of cleavage out there, so someone can see if they want to look into something or someone further. It’s too soon for a relationship at the ads stage.

    Screaming ads are by definition not interesting. Screaming people are not interesting.

    Google ads and similar stuff are a good way to be “found” online when someone is searching for something similar to what you’re marketing.

    And of course, the “free” reports approach or “free training” approach is another option on the picnic table.

    I think it’s just a huge thing that Google is doing this cutting back in the name of better ads, given people are clamoring to give them money to splatter their (often hypey) ads on the internet.

    It’s amazing to me that the SELLER of the most ads in the world is the one taking this step. And reducing their income with it, in the name of better and more interesting advertising.

  • Dear Kim,

    When I use Google keyword search, I am looking for something very specific. What little I know and what little I have personally experienced with Google has helped me to understand why relevancy is so crutial.

    Thinking of it as the real yellow pages helps me consider what a quality ad might be.

    I would not state any of the obvious (liscensed, bonded, insured, free estimates). Instead I would discribe in as few 8th grader words as possible what my best customers have received from my company that was of the highest value to them. In other words, what is my USP, (unique selling propersition).

    The most successful advertizing I have ever experienced was at a home show. It was a target market and we had a powerful, yet passive display that clearly demonstrated our USP. We were swarmed the whole show even with 9 other competitors at the same show.

    I am thinking how to put this kind of stuff on a Google PPC ad.

    To me free still attracts too many of the wrong kind of prospects. It starts the new relationship off with suspicion; what’s the hook or where are the strings ?

    I can foresee the cost per click getting very steep with Google. For them it will mean less work, but more profit in the long haul.

    Isn’t that what we all want? Less work, but more profit?

    Bullseye PPCer,
    Tom Doiron

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