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Would you drop Google if they put ads on their homepage?

Dave Shaw [PersonRank 5]

Friday, August 15, 2008
14 years ago3,621 views

According to Eric Schmidt are missing out on potentially $billions because they refuse to put ads on their homepage. They won't do it because "they put the user before the advertiser" (and before themselves apparently). Interesting article over at CNET.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Gadget developers put ads in iGoogle, the personalized Google homepage. Some (most?) of the ads are from Google AdSense. We'll see even more ads in the new iGoogle, that adds support for OpenSocial and canvas view.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

In a word, no.

Dave Shaw [PersonRank 5]

14 years ago #

That's what I think too – so how come Eric is dead against it?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Even as a hypothetical feature it would probably have to be:
- somewhat targeted to the location, search history, or services the user is known to use
- relatively unobtrusive, e.g. a text link instead of a blinking banner
- perhaps not showing all the time but just sometimes (or just to iGoogle users); perhaps even come with an opt-in or opt-out feature
- perhaps even be "approved interesting" stuff, though that would create a world of conflict of interest of its own

Even so, the intent of the user is not clear when the user is in the stage of visiting the homepage. That intent only becomes clear after some words are entered, when Google displays lots of ads in the results.

Right now, Google does use the page – rarely – for self-advertising its services (if you want to call that advertising, I mean it's their homepage to begin with and any link on it naturally gets the attention of people but that's what homepages do...).

However, if it would just be that one unobtrusive ad, I think while many to most people would hate it – which might in some indirect way lower Google's income in other properties through lowered trust and usage? – I would think the majority of people would not have that single ad make them drop Google. But beyond that, such an ad could also be a good sign that Google has finally "lost" it in terms of old strategy etc. which could lead to more such cases, be demoralizing to its employees, etc.

Dave Shaw [PersonRank 5]

14 years ago #

Philipp wrote:

"Even so, the intent of the user is not clear when the user is in the stage of visiting the homepage."

This is exactly like traditional marketing (which still companies still spend mega bucks on). They put a billboard on a street corner or an ad in a tv break and the intention of the viewer is pretty much completely unknown.

Admittedly, this is what I hate about traditional marketing, but my point is, I don't think it would put big advertisers off at all.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I doubt Google is suffering financially here.

Sure, Google might make a lot of money from an ad on the front page, but they probably make even more money by letting the user click on a more highly-targeted ad after doing a search.

No point running a $0.10 CPM ad on the front page when you can run a $2.50 CPM ad on the search results page.

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I hope they never do ads on the homepage. One thing that stands out as tacky at Yahoo! is when half of the services I use from them have Credit Score ads on them all the time. I don't know how often those ads get clicked, but some company is coughing up lots of money to keep them there.

Here's another example of wasted advertising, Lots of stores here in the US will print a coupon when you are given your receipt at the end of a sale. This past week I bought a gas grill, guess what kind of coupon I got? A 25% coupon for a particular brand of women's sandals. Seriously? How does buying a grill say, HEY, I'm in the mood to buy women's sandals?

Dave Shaw [PersonRank 5]

14 years ago #

Very funny Colin – and yes this happens so often. It's just crazy. I guess the companies that do it must see *some* benefit from it?

I think you make a great point Roger – ads on the front page would have to be cheaper than search, although they would potentially be reaching a lot more people...

George R [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I do not believe that ads on the google front page would cause me to stop using google, but they may cause me to stop using the google front page.

There are many other ways to initiate a google search than from its front page. Below are some methods I use in estimated order.

1. my own search page
2. a google tool bar in my browser
3. the search box on a search result page (SERP)
4. the google front page
5. the address box in my browser
6. the google advanced search page

Given a reason, the google front page could easily drop much lower, to a point where it is rarely used.

How do you initiate google searches?

Bilal [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

White and clean, it made a part of the success of Google.

Grega M [PersonRank 2]

14 years ago #

Why do you think the ads on the first page would reach a lot more people? I guess there is nobody who would come at the first page and which would not reach the result one also...
I guess you could say that every user would see twice as much ads (counting also those at the first page) but there is a clear difference in a behavior of a common user:
-first page: be focused on the input box (to avoid misspelling), type the query as quickly as possible and press enter. No time to mess around.
-result page: lots of text to read, starting typically (usual reading pattern) at the top (sponsored links there...), going from left to right (text ads there just before you move your eyes back to the beginning of the line). So lots of time to notice the ads.

I wonder sometimes, how long will it take for users to get used to avoiding the ads. I mean – me personally am never (less than five times in my life) clicking the text ads in search results (not counting the times I am doing in on purpose to award the web-page founders). The same with sponsored links...

Regarding the first page – what might be interesting for users would be if Goog would figure it out what are you searching for _while_ typing (before clicking "enter"). Based on this they would serve just one result (if there is a really good match it would be a sponsored one 100% of the times). User would say "uau, that was quick" and click on the _only_ result without taking notice whether it is a sponsored one or not).

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