Google Offers Paid Inclusion- Good To Know

A few years ago I was really impressed by everything Google did and it remained like that for years. However,  recently I really have to wonder were their ethics went. It's been reported all over the web that the Google+ integration is "a bit" too much and the Google privacy rules might turn into a Spy world. I guess it sucks, but they will probably get away with it. Today I noticed another fun little feature, that should make the Groupons of this world a bit upset:

Google started pushing the Google Offers product into the SERPS (top right above all Adwords). The banner and ad appears not only when you are logged in, but also at times when you are logged out of Google.

In other words: Google is giving their own deal products a premier paid spot with image in the SERPs. Now did they ask all the 2000 Groupon clones and all e-commerce sites with deals  to get the same treatment? Or are we back to the old transparency tactics?

Logged in view:


Logged out view:


No wonder the NYC subways are plastered with Google banners promoting the new Google good to know campaign. Personally I am just glad to see that we are back to the 2004  paid inclusion days :)

Data and Transparency

Google, the probably most loved brand in the world, had rough weeks behind: First Aaron Wall aka Seobook posted about the strange Adwords bidding that makes him bid 20+ Cents for long-tail keywords, where no competition is anywhere around.

Recently Michael Arrington over at Techcrunch posted about Google's loss of innocence. Erick followed up today and wrote about the Google toolbar, that raises privacy concerns.

Besides that also Marshall aka Webmetricsguru showed concerns.

It's really no secret that Google collects a lot of data with Google Analytics, the toolbar and most probably with their Adsense / Adwords application. Besides that they own Doubleclick and have some behavorial data of great extend.

Having said that I think it's nothing really bad to collect data, but if you use the data to skyrocket your own profits and hurt the balance of the web, it's not a great sign.

I wasn't really concerned about Google's data collection over the last years. But when it comes to recent changes of Adsense and Adwords I am as concerned as Aaron, because I face the same issues when it comes to bidding or earning money.

It's not only the minimum bidding price being too high (with nobody else bidding on the keyword), but also the effectiveness of Adsense that wonders me sometimes.

PPC prices were and are increasing over the past few years. However the Adsense payouts did not rise the same way as they should have.

Google is incredible smart about tweaking money out of their nontransparent system and advertisers and at the end consumers have to pay for it.

With Google's market share reaching 70+%, it's possible that the overall balance of the web as a marketplace is disrupted and then the fun is...well pretty much over.