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This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >     
ZDNet Blog: "Google is really bad at monetizing content"
unLTD

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 11:29 am on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google's past 3 years financial trends points to the fact that company is shifting away from content adverting to search advertising in terms of its overall profits.

Google 2008 financials indicate that 66% of its 2008 revenues which grew 6% since 2006, came from Google's own search advertising and its search advertising business in the same period was 19 times more profitable with 39% profit margin than content advertising.

Content advertising revenue share for 2008 stands at 31% (down 7% from 2006) with only 4.5% profit margin.

From ZDnet.com blog:
[blogs.zdnet.com...]

Since 2006 its content advertising has dropped from 39% of revenues to just 30%. In addition, total content advertising fell 3% in the most recent quarter, year over year, yet search advertising grew 9%.

Google’s profit margin on content advertising is just 4.5%, many traditional media companies are much more profitable. And Google is moving away from content advertising because it can’t monetize it effectively.


 

steve40

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 11:44 am on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hhmmm interesting figures

As an adwords user ( not biggy just couple grand a month ) when I needed to cut back I am afraid it was the content network that I dropped , and the search network costs less than a year ago as well.

Whatever others say I found it harder to manage and harder to get the same ROI on content as search. I am sure when the economy picks up I will move back into content to gain the extra traffic but not for a while

Maybe others much bigger than I am are making the same decisions

steve

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 1:51 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google 2008 financials indicate that 66% of its 2008 revenues which grew 6% since 2006, came from Google's own search advertising and its search advertising business in the same period was 19 times more profitable with 39% profit margin than content advertising.

Content advertising revenue share for 2008 stands at 31% (down 7% from 2006) with only 4.5% profit margin.

The numbers above seem to indicate that Google generated more revenue with search than content.

A quote from the article:
GOOG’s financial trends show the company is shifting revenues away from content advertising to search advertising. Which makes sense since it is so much more profitable.

... and the title of the thread seem to imply Google is intentionally generating more revenue from search than content. The numbers seem to show something, but I'm not sure the numbers show intent. To say Google is "shifting revenue" seems to indicate an intent and ability, which would mean they would have the ability to move the other way if they wanted.

FarmBoy

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 2:09 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I read another post by the author who wrote the post referenced in this thread.

He says:
And contextual advertising is a red herring. It still takes massive numbers of views before a text-ad gets a click from a viewer. This is an incredibly inefficient system.

My first thought was what does he mean by "massive" and on what basis does he make that claim? For example, want to talk efficiency? I did a lot of direct mail advertising long before the Internet came along and I can tell you if direct mailers could generate a response rate half the CTR I'm generating with AdSense, they would throw a giant party.

So I kept reading and found the example he provides, which even he says is extreme:

The UK Guardian recently reported that the co-writer of the Rick Astley song “Never give you up” was expecting a fat royalty check from YouTube for more than 154 million views of the video. Google sent him a check for 11 pounds ($15).

This is a massive failure by Google to monetize 154 million views.

He likes the word "massive" obviously. But his leading example of how Google is not good at generating advertising is a song on YouTube?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I won't be taking this man's advice anytime soon. I'd rather hear from people who actually use and understand the product.

FarmBoy

Green_Grass

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 4:36 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

YouTube has the potential to skew figures. IMHO , G has failed to monetize massive traffic on YouTube and this could be reflecting badly on the content network as a whole.

Content networks does work for savvy advertisers. I never cut my adWord budgets on content. It generates good volume at cost effective prices. IMO, Search can also be a major drain on resources if not done right. Diff, strategies with diff. networks is the key here.

Lexur

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 4:47 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

This article is just a shot in war between giants: CBS and Google (so not us, the publishers of Adsense).

From the numbers and the source, I have another interpretation: CBS and other big players can't monetize their content and need desesperately to eliminate some players because those players are hardly adjusting the real value of the web traffic.

a) This morning the CEO of a really important spanish media conglomerate with billions in sales each quarter was asked about the future of jounalism and printed newspapers; regarding the web business, he think it's absolutely unable to survive because online advertising is 90% less profitable FOR PUBLISHERS. Online advertising is not falling like other channels are doing this year and it's not because any romantic reason but because it's profitable.

b) Even if Adsense left to be profitable, Google will mantain the program because it made the search engine the giant it is now. Google is now in the 80% of the web and never will left to fall this visibility. We will see Youtube to be trashed before the Adsense network fall.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:06 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google's past 3 years financial trends points to the fact that company is shifting away from content adverting to search advertising in terms of its overall profits.

To expand on what farmboy said, the fact that Google has been successful in building its own traffic and ad revenues doesn't mean it's "moving away" from the content network. Let's not forget that content-network revenues have grown hugely over the past three years, too. The numbers make it clear that Google is happy to make money from ads on its own Web properties and from ads on third-party sites. Those same numbers also make it clear that Google has done an excellent job of monetizing (and helping publishers profit from) third-party content sites.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:08 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

...and the title of the thread seem to imply Google is intentionally generating more revenue from search than content.

That title was the OP's personal spin that is unrelated to the article. The article is about how Search monetizes better than content. I changed it to accurately reflect what the article is about.

Is it really a surprise that Google squeezes more money out of search ads that are shown on Google itself? Yes Google has search partners however most searches are done on Google. Since Google is not a search partner, of course it's going to monetize better.

moTi

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:17 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

99 percent of adsense clickers on my website - and yours possibly too - come from google search engine. repeat visitors simply don't click (a flaw with the whole ppc system but that's another issue). i'm so sick of this double dependency on the traffic site and on the income site.

imo the content network is doomed for the following reason: google tries hard to improve its ranking algorithm every day. if searchers find what they are looking for better and better, we get fewer and fewer of the misdirected click-happy visitors on which everyone of us depends so heavily. a perfect google won't need the content network.

what's left at the end is publishers with adsense ads all over their websites being cheerleaders for the google brand with no compensation.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:57 pm on May 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

if searchers find what they are looking for better and better, we get fewer and fewer of the misdirected click-happy visitors on which everyone of us depends so heavily. a perfect google won't need the content network.

I don't want "misdirected click-happy visitors." I want visitors who arrive on my site, learn more about the topic that they're researching, and click on an ad because they're interested in the offer. Google's advertisers also want those visitors, and they're willing to pay for them (to judge from the rise in average EPC that I've seen in the past year).

Fact is, advertising isn't just about getting clicks from people who can't find the information they want on your site or who can't tell the difference between an AdSense ad and a navigation link. And a "perfect Google" does need the content network, because (to paraphrase Google's classic "smart pricing" example) someone who's searching for a review of a camera is more likely to be interested in a dealer's ad for that camera after he's decided to buy that camera as a result of reading the review. To the person who's researching a product, a vacation, an educational course, a business service, etc., a SERP is likely to be the first step in the process, not the final step--unless the person is searching very specifically on "digico dc-1 camera dealers," "seathrill cruises travel agent," or "springfield laserjet ii repairs."

farmboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 1:35 am on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

repeat visitors simply don't click

My repeat visitors click.

FarmBoy

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 2:03 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

total content advertising fell 3% in the most recent quarter, year over year, yet search advertising grew 9%

That's not a good sign. Among advertisers those that are staying with content seem to be cutting back drastically on what they are willing to pay. No matter how you dice it the era of high growth for Adsense is gone, and the above drop may be start a downward trend. Many Adsense publishers will attest that the drops have been going on for a while now.

Since 2006 its content advertising has dropped from 39% of revenues to just 30%

As Adsense shrinks to a smaller and smaller part of Google's earnings expect to see Google recognise this and incorporate the diminishing importance of Adsense into their strategic decisions.

Google’s profit margin on content advertising is just 4.5%

That's astonishing. OK, they are paying publishers a big chunk but where's the rest going? Or are these figures wrong?

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 2:45 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Many Adsense publishers will attest that the drops have been going on for a while now.

Unless I'm mistaken, 1Q 2009 was the first time there was ever a drop in AdSense revenues. (Let's not confuse individual shares of the revenue pie with the total size of the pie.)

IMHO, the total size of the pie is less of a concern than how many publishers, pages, and impressions are chasing after that pie. Just to pick a hypothetical number, if the number of AdSense impressions across the network grows by 10 per cent, the average publisher will be hurt regardless of whether the network's total revenues increase or decline by 3 percent.

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 3:05 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just to pick a hypothetical number, if the number of AdSense impressions across the network grows by 10 per cent, the average publisher will be hurt regardless of whether the network's total revenues increase or decline by 3 percent.

That applies only in a world of fixed and finite quantity of ads for publishers' sites.

But ads aren't physical products. As an Adwords advertiser I can guarantee you there is no limit to how much of money I can give Adwords as long as my current profit margins are maintained. True, I can set daily spending limits, but in the unlikely event of several billion people needing to download my software at $100 a go I'll happily continue paying Adwords $10 per converted customer.

The number of advertisers is finite, the pool of available ads isn't nor is the size of the "pie". The reason advertisers are pulling out of the content network is because they don't see enough profit in it. That's it. Not enough profit. Not enough conversion.

The article may have a point about Google not doing that brilliantly at monetising content. Whether it's because they've got lower quality sites in the network, ad relevancy has deteriorated (from personal experience I've noticed this drop in relevance when I monitor what my visitors are seeing in different countries), or some other flaw in the system - is for Google to work on and fix.

nealrodriguez

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 3:40 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The number of advertisers is finite, the pool of available ads isn't nor is the size of the "pie". The reason advertisers are pulling out of the content network is because they don't see enough profit in it. That's it. Not enough profit. Not enough conversion.

i am thinking once advertisers start to see real google analytics metrics fed into google ad planner, they may be able to get better conversion rates by investing in platforms on which their target market congregates.

[webmasterworld.com...]

As Adsense shrinks to a smaller and smaller part of Google's earnings expect to see Google recognise this and incorporate the diminishing importance of Adsense into their strategic decisions.

as google opens more free functionality, i believe it will be used to bolster ad buys for the content network:

[webmasterworld.com...]

i don't think they are 'diminishing' the importance of adsense by assigning teams to develop the google ad planner:

[webmasterworld.com...]

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 5:41 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ad planner aims to put more power in the hands of the advertiser; to give him a better idea of the target audience of a specific site so he can better target his ads/convert his visitors.

I'm not sure that's top of advertisers' wish list. It makes an already complicated program more complicated i.e. reduces appeal to small advertisers. And it puts more responsibility on the advertiser.

Some would argue that finding the best sites for a particular ad is Google's job. It's best done by the program that knows how the ad performs in different environments/demographics/topicalities. Such algorithmic delivery is more efficient not just because it removes the human element but because it makes better use of the data available to Google (including data on competitors' ads that Google can't share).

i don't think they are 'diminishing' the importance of adsense

Maybe there aren't any immediate signs. But given enough shrinkage in the Adsense market it would be commercially savvy to point the best brains elsewhere in the organisation.

In one of the threads you link to, the opening post says this:
On Google's earnings call yesterday executives there mentioned that they've killed several business in the past 3-6 months that were not deemed viable or too costly, and also made it clear that other low/no revenue products might be on the chopping block as well.

I can't see them killing Adsense but they could certain squeeze margins to make it less attractive. Among other things. As an Adsense publisher I hope they don't do it but it would be foolish of them to continue pushing Adsense if and I repeat if it isn't bringing home the bacon.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:50 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

AdSense brought home 1.64 billion dollars' worth of bacon in 1Q 2009, and several hundred million dollars were kept by Google. What's more, anyone who's been watching AdSense closely knows that Google sees AdSense as being far more than just a CPC text-ad network: AdSense is evolving into a platform for CPC ads, CPM text ads, CPM display ads, and potentially other forms of advertising content. (I wouldn't be surprised to see advertising "widgets" on the horizon, with ad content being updated in real time by advertisers.)

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 7:15 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

From the article, FWIW:
Google’s profit margin on content advertising is just 4.5%, many traditional media companies are much more profitable.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 7:37 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google’s profit margin on content advertising is just 4.5%, many traditional media companies are much more profitable.

Sure, but they have huge volume. It's like any other business: Monique's Parfum Boutique may earn higher margins than Wal-Mart does, but so what? At the end of the day, Wal-Mart is raking in a lot more money than Monique ever will.

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 7:43 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

So that's all right then - as long as the margin doesn't decrease further ;)

nealrodriguez

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 7:45 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure that's top of advertisers' wish list.

why do advertisers request media kits considering an ad buy? i think they read it before using it to potty train their poodles ;) how else have sites like quantcast, compete, nielsen, alexa, forrester survived until now? i am sure not everyone thinks this way, but an ad purchaser will want to get to know the person or entity to which he is coughing up his money, as much possible, if he's worth the greenbacks his check transforms into bi-weekly.

It makes an already complicated program more complicated i.e. reduces appeal to small advertisers.

if you've only got a small budget with which to advertise, wouldn't you want to know as much about where traffic originates? how much of it? whether these visitors are the type of people that buy your product?

And it puts more responsibility on the advertiser.

i love being responsible for my money. i feel that if i make the man who didn't make it responsible, it may get wasted.

Some would argue that finding the best sites for a particular ad is Google's job. It's best done by the program that knows how the ad performs in different environments/demographics/topicalities. Such algorithmic delivery is more efficient not just because it removes the human element but because it makes better use of the data available to Google (including data on competitors' ads that Google can't share).

oh, i'm sure you'll still have that option by default; as an advertiser, nonetheless, i'd prefer to peel more of the wool off my eyes before buying.

wanderingmind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 8:58 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

The UK Guardian recently reported that the co-writer of the Rick Astley song “Never give you up” was expecting a fat royalty check from YouTube for more than 154 million views of the video. Google sent him a check for 11 pounds ($15).
This is a massive failure by Google to monetize 154 million views.

I am not experienced enough to pass judgement on the topic of the thread - but 154 million views, and $15 is a 1000 times than what the cheapest CPM network would pay. In my experience, the worst CPM ad network in India would pay me around a 1000 $ for that many impressions!

(I dont know how Youtube shares revenue though)

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 10:40 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hear what you're saying, nealrodriguez, though I don't necessarily agree that the smaller advertisers want to take on the complexity and analysis of all that data. I don't believe that transparency (wool over eyes) takes precedence for them over profit. The focus should be on improving relevance, increasing CTRs, better matching of ads to audience, increasing advertiser profits. I believe, in the content network, Google's gone backwards a bit on relevance and audience matching in the last year or two.

Irrespective of what control any advertiser wants, the success or otherwise of the content network will ultimately rest on Google's shoulders. At this precise moment in time it doesn't look that rosy - from my experience with a range of sites, Google doesn't seem to have the same magic touch of monetising content that it once seemed to have. Even when you exclude video. I'm not complaining, I do very well out of some of my sites. I'm merely making an observation from many years in the program, some top quality sites, several hundreds of millions of ad impressions and tons of statistical data.

If profitability from the CN grows sharply from here, all credit to Google. If it drops further in terms in profitability then I'm afraid the buck does stop at Google. Don't get the wrong impression, I do hope it's the former as I stand to gain both as a publisher and as a merchant (advertiser).

zett

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 10:57 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

To me, it appears to be just natural that...

1) Google is trying to shift more impressions to the properties where they have the highest profitability, i.e. their own properties. Because of the higher profit margin on their own propertiers, they can afford a much lower CTR while still achieving the same absolute profit as with the content network.

2) Google may be looking for ways to improve profitability of 3rd party properties (the content network). The easiest way to do that would be to reduce the revenue share for some publishers (not for all of them!). This would translate to a (slowly?) decreasing value of the pages, i.e. to shrinking eCPM.

But I do not think they will stop the content network. It gives them:

A) Additional tracking capabilities of users, as ads also "ping back" to Google which user is seeing what content.

B) It is a beautiful way to blow up the balance sheet with 3rd party revenues; and Wall Street still prefers big numbers, even if somewhat inflated.

C) The program is still making some money for Google, even at lower profitability.

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 11:12 am on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

There's one other reason I've argued in the past why the content network is valuable to Google: search accounts for less than 5% of how people reach destinations. Google realises the importance of the other 95% and wants a finger in that pie. They are a "business" so if Google's profit from the CN drops low enough they may get tempted to inch it up by feeling out the pain threshold for each publisher i.e. the point at which they'll abandon ship. Maybe that's already happening ;)

Lexur

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 6:35 am on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google’s profit margin on content advertising is just 4.5%, many traditional media companies are much more profitable.

It just means those companies are taking more from advertisers or paying less to publishers (or probably both at time).
I believe these are the same companies selling 10$ CPM campaigns hitting his head in the wall when they know anyone can have the same campaiign running in Adwords/Adsense at 0,5$ CPM and, of course, the same compaies writing articles about the Adsense big crunch and seeing their "incredible 8$ offer" incredibly not fullfilled. The NYT can't survive with Adsense and need those 10$ CPM campaigns so they are talking about the end of journalism end the end of the online avertising era (for them, not for me).

Anyone can left out his criticism against the Google's simple biiding system for advertising but anyone should too show the alternatives.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 7:55 am on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

GOOG’s financial trends show the company is shifting revenues away from content advertising to search advertising.

That's the writers opinion of how the revenue is trending based on the profit margin differences. It does not mean Google is shifting away from promoting the content network. Actually the opposite is going on.

Google just came out with the Ad Planner for Publishers [webmasterworld.com] which helps publishers sell their sites to advertisers. For at least the past year and continuing through this very week Google is promoting the content network.

The content network is an area that still has room for growth as far as attracting more advertisers. Google has been cleaning up the content network and making it more profitable for advertisers by doing things like helping avoid accidental clicks and kicking out arbitrageurs. This contradicts some assertions that Google is walking away from AdSense.

I've seen a few posts around that assume that Google is abandoning the AdSense network. If that assumption hinges on this blogger's observation about how one monetizes better over the other, then I think that's a wrong assumption. This article does not point to any such movement by Google. None, zero. It's just one guy pointing out that search monetizes better than content. An observation that's pretty obvious to anyone who gives it at least two seconds of thought.

Now let's take a look at what Google said [marketwatch.com], including the explanation of why the margins are different:

The operating margin we realize on revenues generated from ads placed on our Google Network members' web sites through our AdSense program is significantly lower than the operating margin we realize from revenues generated from ads placed on our web sites because most of the advertiser fees from ads served on Google Network members' web sites are shared with our Google Network members.

The blogger was commenting on operating margin. That's it. Now here is the fun part: The reason the margin is lower is because most of the revenue derived from advertisers is shared with the publishers.

Oh my! :o

oddsod

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 1:00 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do I believe Google is walking away from Adsense? No. Do I think that Google would be foolish to persist with Adsense if Google's profits from the Content Network spiral downwards? Yes.

The reason the margin is lower is because most of the revenue derived from advertisers is shared with the publishers.

Comparing the CN margin with Search margin isn't fair. But comparing the CN margin for any period with the CN margin from the past is fair and should be used in any long term assessment of the CN's future.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 2:07 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do I think that Google would be foolish to persist with Adsense if Google's profits from the Content Network spiral downwards? Yes.

That's a pretty big "if." Google isn't likely to walk away from a business that's bringing in more than five billion dollars a year in revenue. If profit margins were to narrow, it's far more likely that Google would find ways to cut costs or improve ad rates than fall into a swoon and abandon a major source of revenue.

Come to think of it, as Martinibuster has pointed out, Google is already working on ways to make the network more attractive and productive for advertisers. The crackdown on click arbitrage, the introduction of "placement targeting" (a.k.a. site targeting) for both CPM and CPC ads, better domain filtering for advertisers, a stricter definition of "valid clicks," introduction of new ad types, etc. should increase the pool of advertisers, improve advertisers' ROI, and ultimately lead to more advertisers spending more money. Just as publishers here are often warned not to put all their eggs in one basket, Google would be foolish to put all of its eggs in one basket. The people running Google aren't stupid, and only a very stupid management team would say "Let's shrink our revenues and serve ads only on our own properties so we can have a higher profit margin."

loner

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3910408 posted 2:30 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google won't walk away from adsense content, but I have no doubt they will shrivel payments to publishers to the bare minimum- as little as it takes.

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