It's the last thing newspapers need. You can almost hear the gnashing of teeth, the hair-pulling, and the calls in to legal.

Not now! Not Google!

But it's true - Google's longstanding policy of no advertising on the Google News site is becoming less policy than loose guideline. As John Battelle so aptly puts it, "sh*tstorm to follow."

Google is now running contextual ads against Google News search results in the United States. Search for "Barack Obama" right about now and you'll see ads for a Barack Obama watch, and a Barack Obama wall plaque. Search "recession" and you get pretty much what you'd expect -- work-at-homes schemes and continuing education programs.

The Google News blog makes it clear these results only appear when a user searches on Google's news site. They don't show up when you land on the home page or click a news category section, unless you refine the results. A tad defensively, the post says, "We've always said that we'd unveil these changes when we could offer a good experience for our users, publishers and advertisers alike, and we'll continue to look at ways to deliver ads that are relevant for users and good for publishers, too."

Methinks more than one publisher, at least the ones not busy filing for bankruptcy, are probably going to have a problem with Google running ads against their content.

Prediction: Quite a few publishers will pull their feeds, and at least one major news orgaization will at least try to haul Google into court.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 26 February, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

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Comments (5)

Bryan Montpetit

Bryan Montpetit, President at LinguaCounsel

Hi Rebecca -

I think it's (unfortunately) a natural evolution of a site gaining more and more popularity. And I mean c'mon it's GOOGLE. As the site gains traffic and therefore value - the potential for revenue at a certain point becomes undeniable.

I do think that Google possesses the ability to properly maintain integrity in how they post the ads versus page/news content.

And as long as there are standards and rules to avoid the annoying flashing type ads - it may actually be interesting to see how they conduct their behavior and may (let's look on the good side) inspire other sites with ads to improve the method in which they deliver ads per page.

over 9 years ago



Doesn't this mean traditional media is dead ?  Google will be skimming ad money off content that traditional media paid money to produce.

If I ran a media company, I would want a cut of Google's revenues on this.

over 9 years ago



How is this any different to Google showing ads next to organic SERP's currently?

Publishers love that because it increases traffic.  Ditto for news and blog feeds.  Google make money of a user supplied search string - it's not making money off the publishers content ala AdSense - the two actions are unrelated.  And it's presumably text, not image/flash etc  If Google were analysing the content of the feed which they were then using to serve ads it would be a different story.

Trying hard to find the obvious flaw in my argument, but cannot see this one?

over 9 years ago

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb, Digital Marketing Consultant & Author at self-employed


If Google's contextual ads appear on a publisher site, the publisher makes money off the click. Alternately, a publisher can monetize that space by selling ad inventory, if not to Google than to other advertisers.

Google ads on Google News do not benefit publishers - they benefit Google. That's why Google has long held off running ads on their news service - it would discourage news sources from feeding their stories into Google News.

From the publisher perspective, Google is eating their lunch.

Gonna be interesting to watch this play out.

over 9 years ago



I understand how the money flows here, I am simply citing precedent.

To explain using your example, ads on SERP's pages do not make publishers money.  They make Google money.  Publishers seem to be okay with that.

In the same way, ads on News SERP's pages do not make publishers money, they are going to make Google money.

The common element here - traffic.  Both regular web SERP's and News SERP's drive traffic to the publishers.

So why isn't Google placing ads on SERP's eating their lunch? There's no difference. There is no argument to be made.  If you are going to come down on Google for this, then you have an issue, by association with the model that has made them what they are. And since Google make the majority of their money of SERP's that's a big lunch to be eating versus News.  Content (AdSense) doesn't come into it.

over 9 years ago

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