I agree with you that a publisher has to give up a certain degree of control when he participates in an ad program.
However, Google seems to demand a high degree of freedom loss.
- Publishers do not know the revenue share (and no, I do NOT mean the average figure from Google's earings report)
- Publsihers do not know which ads have run on their sites
- Publishers do not know exactly which ads are running or will run on their sites
- Publishers do not know which ads got clicked
- Publishers are severly limited in controling the ads that actually are shown (just a crap filter of 200 slots)
- Usually, publishers do not get any advance notification of changes to come, which is true even for major changes
Such tests can be easily performed within a closed user group (aka "Beta Test") with test users that agree to the tests. The experience of the testers leads to improvements until the product is ready for the market. The product may then be communicated in advance to the public users. That is the normal way. It just is not the normal way with Google who just throw up something and see what happens.
I agree with the OP that running TESTS against live sites without consent is not a very good practice, and I do not understand why doing so is "inevitable". It is not.
No, no, and no. It could be done differently. Very much so. Just because Google does it like this does not mean it is "natural" or "inevitable".
BTW, "Outsourcing" is a term typically used by BUYERS, not by suppliers. When I am selling ads to Google (i.e. I give them the real estate, and they pay me for it), then I feel like a supplier in the first place. Sure, you can turn it around by saying "I am paying Google for finding advertisers", but that is not the money flow I am seeing. I am selling my ad space to Google, and I get paid for it.
Standard disclaimer: Any statement on any development, e.g. revenue trends, is only refering to my sites. I know that Adsense is a take-it-or-leave-it deal. I know that any party can terminate the contract at any time without the need to provide reason. I know that Adsense may not work for everyone, and that it might make sense to not use Adsense for certain niches.