Accusing the Google: A New Blood Sport?

August 14, 2019

Years ago Google provided a Web search system. People used the system because it provided more comprehensive results than AltaVista, Lycos, and similar systems. People accepted Google. There are online users who use no other mechanism for locating online information.

Google was mostly above criticism. Stakeholders were happy. Employees were happy. Search engine optimization experts were happy. The only people who were not happy were a small minority of online users.

Now, accusing Google, seems to be a new a cottage industry.

Sometime today (Wednesday,August 14, 2019), an anonymous Xoogler (the term for a former Google employee) will allegedly leak internal and presumably confidential documents. These documents will explain how objective algorithms allegedly have been adjusted to return non-objective search results. You can read this pre announcement of the alleged Google document dump at “”The Distortion Is Grotesque” – Google Insider Turns Over 950 Pages Documenting Bias To DoJ.”

SparkToro published “Less Than Half of Google Searches Now Result in a Click” contains allegedly accurate information which suggests that Google’s online advertising has a dark side. Here’s a statement which caught DarkCyber’s attention:

We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden. In June of 2019, for the first time, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks.

If this assertion is accurate, Google is auctioning off the possibility that an ad will yield an interested buyer. There would be no purchase, but the likelihood is that a human would read an ad and then visit the advertiser’s landing page or Web site exists.

This article says that less than half of the Google ads produce a click. There’s a chart which makes the point clear:

image

The black solid color reports / shows that 50.33 percent of the data collected and compiled by Jumpshot illustrates ads which produce no clicks.

Sounds horrible, right? But advertisers are buying the possibility of a click, not a click. Advertisers don’t pay if there is no click.

Google, if these data are correct, is inefficient for advertisers. Google is also inefficient for users. Google is assumed to be efficient.

DarkCyber interprets these data in a different way:

  • Google is rife with inefficiency, at least in the ad click function
  • Advertisers may have one perception, and the user behavior illustrates a reality: Ads are not delivering what advertisers need them to deliver; namely, eyeballs
  • The erosion of relevance in results and ads combine to suggest that users may be faced with query results which are dissonant; that is, the expected results are supposed to be relevant but may not be and the ads displayed in the results list and around the results list are slightly off kilter. This evokes, at least in my research team’s experience, a statement like “Google is not returning results which match my query.”

Mobile presents another problem. Due to limited screen real estate and embedded ads presented as objective data, the results are difficult to see across a span of hits. A single hit is presented, and most users assume that the search result if the most relevant. DarkCyber has written about the Cuba Libre result before. Standing in front of the restaurant, Google did not display the restaurant on a Google Map. The former Gizmo editor for USA Today was in my group, and that individual pointed out the anomaly. The answer I offered was a question, “Do you think Google’s database is objective?” The tech reporter looked at me and asked, “What?”

So, it’s now early in the US Eastern time zone, 545 am to be exact. Will the Google document dump take place today? Will the Sparktoro data capture attention?

DarkCyber believes that most people are now conditioned by direct and indirect means to perceive Google as objective, essential, an information utility like a 24×7 old school public library reference desk librarian.

Changing user habits and perceptions is difficult. Talking about how search can work, should work, and does work is more difficult. And most difficult is the job of explaining to the goldfish that the school of chums are in something called “water” is most difficult.

Philosophy aside, these two “real news” stories are examples of a new blood sport: Slashing at the GOOG. A thousand cuts will kill. Isn’t that’s the assumption in this catchphrase.

Stephen E Arnold, August 14, 2019

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