Google and UX: Ads Like It or Not

May 30, 2019

I love it when a large company become desperate. A bit of history is in order. In the pre-monopoly days, Google survived the Yahoo allegation that the then-Web search company was influenced to an unusual degree by the ad system developed by That system morphed into Overture, and then disappeared into the purple morass. After some early influencers of the GOOG suggested that revenue was a good idea, Google rolled out its ad platform. To my untrained eye and to those in other organizations, the influence was more than coincidence. After a bit of legal wrangling before the Google IPO and a bit of “real” money, the allegations went away. Google, between 2003 and 2006 enjoyed the glory days of online advertising. No one paid any attention. The access was via desktop computers (often described as boat anchors by the mobile believers), and there was zero friction between an advertiser and Google selling access to its traffic.

Ah, the good old days.

As the mobile revolution managed traction from some flawed limited slip differentials, the diffusion of tiny screens began. A trickle at first soon grew into a flood. Today, more than two thirds of online activity takes place on mobile devices; that is, tiny screens.

So here’s the problem. Google’s infrastructure is a money eating machine. To make matters worse, former Googlers working at Facebook have tweaked that wild and crazy social service to sell ads too. The Bezos bulldozer has pulled its left tractor control and is guiding the big orange machine into the lucrative world of selling product ads with more types soon to follow. Just check out what Amazon is doing and ask, “What will advertisers pay to reach profiled, data mapped, verified users who are interested in these services?”

Against this background I read “Google to Restrict Modern Ad Blocking Chrome Extensions to Enterprise Users” and chuckled. The write up states:

Google is essentially saying that Chrome will still have the capability to block unwanted content, but this will be restricted to only paid, enterprise users of Chrome. This is likely to allow enterprise customers to develop in-house Chrome extensions, not for ad blocking usage. For the rest of us, Google hasn’t budged on their changes to content blockers, meaning that ad blockers will need to switch to a less effective, rules-based system. This system is how blockers like AdBlock Plus currently work.

Okay, now back to the historical information provided above. Google is trimming certain functionality; for example, depth of spidering, more aggressive implementation of the bluebirds, canaries, and sparrows approach, and killing off services which do not produce revenue or which impose money chewing functions. Where’s that enterprise search thing? Google Plus? WebAccelerator?

In the ethos of the Google, ad blocking is not going to be part of the game plan. I have no doubt that in a slide deck is information about making darned sure ads appear everywhere most of the time. Enjoying that free YouTube video about how to make a 3D shape in Adobe Illustrator. You will enjoy the ads stuck in the middle of the stream as you are watching even more. You will like it! Got that?

The Google ads-everywhere policy is okay with me. I have considerable enthusiasm for searches in quotes which return results not related to my query. I like looking for US government data which are not in the index any more. I find the complaints of bloggers who find their backfiles disappeared.

That’s life in the access road leading to the Google information highway. Ads are the toll, and payment is necessary. Google blocks YouTubers, is blocking individual users who access Google content with a browser that blocks ads be a thing?

Worth thinking about. Well, actually maybe not. Google’s data reveals that there are lots of Google service users who accept an ad filled walled garden. The messages are personalized and something relevant, just like Google search results.

Google needs every penny of advertising money it can get; otherwise, the cracks in Googzilla will bring down the system.

Stephen E Arnold, May 30, 2019


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