Google Accused of Playing a Shell Game with Advertising Dollars
October 17, 2023
1 min 32 sec read
So, Google has done it again. They have a habit of sneaking around and making changes that make a big difference to advertisers, except they forgot (wink) to tell us about the implications.
You know about the big antitrust case the feds have launched against Google. Sure you do. We've mentioned it a time or two. Well, according to one of the experts the feds called in to discuss Google practices, the company made some changes to its advertising platform on the sly that limits what marketers know about where their spending goes.
So, back in 2020, Google "changed what information it provides to advertisers about the text ads that appear at the top of a search results page," Kinshuk Jerath, a marketing expert at Columbia Business School, testified. He said these "so-called" reports that Google handed out "reduced data that advertisers get on about 20% or more of their text ad spending."
It's probably more like 60%, but hey, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Google's defense? They say they did it to protect user privacy.
The result, according to Jerath, is that "advertisers now have less information about what ads they are buying and, combined with another Google change, it's also harder for them to opt-out of specific advertising auctions."
The DOJ maintains that Google is always striving to maintain a monopoly
over online search and online search advertising, just like that board game we've all played, except that Google is playing it in real life, with real consequences.
A Google employee testified that about two-thirds, more than 60%, of Google's total revenue comes from search ads, which equaled about $100 billion in 2020.
Documents presented by the DOJ showed that every year since 2012, Google's search ad revenue growth has been in the "high teens."
Referring to internal emails, Jerath said that a Bank of America Corp bigwig called Google's change "one of the more egregious examples of Google removing transparency from advertisers under the banner of privacy."
Ouch, that hurts.
They go on to say that the "missing" information only hurts advertisers because it makes it harder for them to know the keywords they're buying and which ones are working.
The bottom line is that you should know where your money goes, and the allegations are that Google is being a little shady about letting advertisers in on their secrets.
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