Google hikes ad prices even before Yahoo deal kicks in

Owen Thomas · 09/18/08 07:00PM

CEO Eric Schmidt says Google is moving at full speed with plans to place ads on its archrival Yahoo, even though the Department of Justice is just gearing up to take action on the deal. The deal, signed in June, is set to start in weeks. "You face a question as a large company trying to change things: How many initiatives do you want to take on that are unpopular or lead to criticism?" said Schmidt in a press conference. By "change things," Schmidt would have you think he's talking about saving the world. But here's something that should draw interest from antitrust cops: A Valleywag tipster says that one unpopular change Google is making is to hike the minimum bids on some ads tenfold. That kind of pricing power is usually a sign of a monopoly. And it should well lead to criticism.It's not clear how widespread the price hikes are. (If you've seen raises in your Google bids, please let us know.) But even if the price changes are narrowly targeted, they're alarming in their size and suddenness. The effect of hiking the bids, and then dropping them, says our tipster, is that many of the keyword campaigns were canceled for not meeting the temporarily raised minimums, as he says this screenshot shows:

AdWords customers receive Google cookbook

Jackson West · 08/26/08 12:00PM

Google's cafeterias have become such a point of pride for the company, even if it has to close a cafe now and again, that longtime AdWords customers recently received a spiral-bound copy of the Google cookbook title "Keyword: Delicious." If anything, the cookbook proves just how much fat there is to trim at the company's cafeterias — not one, but two of the recipes call for super-rich and expensive foie gras, or fatted goose liver. Included in the gift basket was a black apron emblazoned with Google's logo. Want to pick up a copy and eat like a Googler?Tough luck. They're not available to the public, yet. And we suspect this may be a limited edition. The introduction is written by John Dickman, Google's former director of food operations, who left the company amidst controversy in January, and now works at Apple.

Ad agencies skip buying the Google ads they love to sell

Nicholas Carlson · 07/01/08 10:00AM

NeoAtOgilvy's Greg Smith told conference-goers earlier this month: "Search should be the first dollar spent." And, true to Smith's word, Google search for Neo client "Lenovo" and, as in the screenshot above, you'll find an ad for the company as Google's top sponsored link. But Neo does not practice what it preaches. Search for "Neo@Ogilvy" itself in Google and, as shown in the screenshot below, you won't find an ad for NeoAtOgilvy. It's typical of agencies. Of the 56 agencies AdWeek assesses with its annual Report Card evaluation, only five — AKQA, Campbell-Ewald, DraftFCB, iCrossing and JWT — purchased Google ads to appear when users searched for their agency names. This is not a sign, however, that ad agencies don't understand Google and search advertising. Rather, it shows that they do.

Inside Google's mysterious money machine, the 100-word version

Jackson West · 06/02/08 01:40PM

In a nearly 1,500-word piece on Google, "The Humans Behind the Google Money Machine," the New York Times didn't say much about said humans except that one of the people who interpret the sea of data generated by Google's advertising business is a Harvard grad in his twenties. Quelle surprise! The article does quote the company's chief economist, Hal Varian (pictured), as saying Google's business is "recession-resistant," and cites criticisms by Wall Street analysts and major advertisers that the Mountain View search giant's operations are like a "black box." Granted, Wall Street firms have been using black boxes, or automated algorithms, to manage trades for years, so the criticism is rather ironic. But the real nut are the details on how you can buy Google ads on the cheap. We've pared that down to exactly 100 money-saving words.

Tom Cruise competing with gay travel for Google AdWords clicks

Jackson West · 05/03/08 01:46PM

On the heels of his interview with Oprah on Friday, actor Tom Cruise (pictured here, trying desperately not to look crazy) has signed up for a Google AdWords account in order to lead the inevitable follow-up searches to his "offical" site, For now it's just a countdown clock ticking off the seconds until 9am PST on Monday, May 5th. The ads appear if you enter "tom cruise," as the screenshots from Hollywood Newsroom make clear. But our own tests reveal that he might want to cast a wider net for search terms, because even Google seems to think Cruise, or at least his fans, want to get away on a big, gay boat — and I don't mean the MV Freewinds.

Googlers vent: Working here sucks, too

Jordan Golson · 03/03/08 02:40PM

Last quarter, Google hired 889 people, bringing the total headcount to 16,805. What do all these new employees do? Stab each other in the back, apparently. A tipster writes: "The management within Google, especially AdWords and AdSense (the money making machines of the entire company ... engineering gets the glory but advertising brings in the big bucks) are completely disorganized and chaotic (in a BAD way- because Google sometimes tries to spin the whole 'chaotic' thing in a good way)." There's much more:

Google assigns dollar value to search results

Nicholas Carlson · 10/31/07 11:18AM

Google's ads are paid for; its search results, supposedly, are untainted by commercial concerns. But French blog Zorgloob landed itself a screenshot that calls Google's purity into question. It shows what Google search results look like to a member of Google's AdWords sales team. The picture raises more questions than it answers. For example, why are there dollar signs among so-called "natural" search results? And why does Google note whether a website in its search results belongs to an advertiser? Here's the image.

Jordan Golson · 10/15/07 04:45PM

Last week, Google removed an AdWords ad criticizing spending habits in Maine because of a standing "trademark" order. Now, after lots of criticism, MoveOn has dropped their opposition to the ads stating "we don't want to support a policy that denies people freedom of expression." [Wired]

Google set to cramp mobile web with Adwords

Tim Faulkner · 09/12/07 04:25PM

Don't own a shiny, new iPhone, but you still need to put up with the cramped, slow, "fake" Web delivered to your mobile phone? Well, it's about to get a little more cramped as Google begins introducing Adwords ads to Google Mobile Search. Ads will be truncated if they are more than half a twitter (70 characters or less) and will only be used if the site linked in the ads is suitably adapted for mobile browsing, but that does little to mitigate the unwanted intrusion. And with the mobile advertising market about to take off, Google isn't going to heed user concerns over millions in revenue. Bring on the mobile ad blockers! [Image: Google]

Michigan's version of Silicon Valley features advertising drones

Tim Faulkner · 08/10/07 12:55PM

Indiana University isn't the only Midwestern university hoping for some search-engine magic to boost its tech image. The University of Michigan is pleased as punch that it persuaded famous alumnus Larry Page, the Google cofounder to build an Ann Arbor campus in 2003. Most of the hires, naturally, are recent University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State graduates. U of M president Mary Sue Coleman gushes, "Attracting companies like Google is absolutely critical to the transformation of the Michigan economy... To see this be a reality and to look at the energy here in the office ... It really is a dream come true.'' To anyone, that is, except the bulk of the workers in Google's Ann Arbor annex.