Friday, March 17, 2006
Perhaps the fact that I can't locate the four-leafer in Google's St. Patrick's Day logo is meant to be symbolic: it doesn't take luck to get a company to where Google is today. You've got to do stuff. Here's to doing all the stuff it takes.
Well, maybe a little luck helps. Google just got a favorable court ruling on caching. It probably helps that the litigant was one of those "seduction tips" dudes -- and among other things, didn't like the idea of other people criticizing him on Usenet newsgroups. Having a stupid litigant sue you is better than having a sympathetic, smart one that gets under the judge's skin. I know this because I watch TV court dramas.
It's not all good news for Google today here on Traffick, though. Yesterday, we were clicking on stories about the bust in a gruesome child porn ring. Unfortunately the wife didn't have time to take screen shots while viewing the articles on Canada.com, but I did see with my own eyes that some very inappropriate AdSense ads appeared near one article. One was about how to erase porn from your computer. Another was simply a porn site. The third: um, another porn site.
Canada.com is owned by CanWest Interactive, a division of a large media conglomerate. It shocks me to think that fully two years after these discussions started breaking out in panel sessions, and G&Y reps promised action on improving their means of blocking inappropriate ads near news stories, these things are still happening.
Of course, later in the day, the ads got a little less inappropriate -- eg. I saw one for a baby monitor and one for a device that will make sure you don't back over your kids in the minivan. Yeah, still pretty gross-looking. All advertising looks opportunistic next to some kinds of news.
Today, similar stories simply have a blank area under the "Ads by Google" notation.
What this looks like is that Google (and perhaps Yahoo) are content just to manage this situation as if they really have no control over it: wait for these little brush fires to erupt, then douse them.
It should also be pointed out that larger publishers do have an obligation to press the ad networks on such matters. If you're negotiating an ad serving deal, how about you build in some protections so that "adult" (porn) ads *never* appear in garden-variety newspaper stories? The title of one of the ads was something like "Porn Addicts Site". I mean, come on.
Although the dumb ads are now gone completely, even the ads appearing near the site search are gratuitous and silly. Search for "porn ring bust" and you get generic ads for "busts" and even one for "breasts":
Maybe we're just trying too doggone hard to cram ads in everywhere. Google has curbed somewhat these generic "spammy looking" ads in their search results, but it looks like partner sites are still getting the brunt of these.
If 97% of a company's revenues come from ads, and they want to be great at that one thing they do well (other than search, which is a cost center without the ads), then achieving greatness is more than about luck. You've got to work with your publishers, block the nasty ads, and... well... do stuff. At least they did something about it in less than 24 hours.
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