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If Google were the United States government, the data that streams onto Nicholas Fox’s laptop every day would be classified as top secret.
Mr. Fox is among a small group of Google employees who keep a watchful eye on the vital signs of one of the most successful and profitable businesses on the Internet. The number of searches and clicks, the rate at which users click on ads, the revenue this generates — everything is tracked hour by hour, compared with the data from a week earlier and charted.
“You can see very, very quickly if anything is amiss,” said Mr. Fox, director of business product management at Google.
Someone Has to Watch The Numbers at Google [nytimes.com]
Mr. Fox and his “ads quality” team can also quickly see whether something is working particularly well. His group’s mission, to constantly fine-tune Google’s ad delivery system, has one overriding objective: show users only the ads they are most likely to be interested in and click on.
[edited by: engine at 12:05 pm (utc) on June 3, 2008]
[edit reason] sidescroll [/edit]
I'm participating in a panel at SMX this week on today's bid mgmt systems, and one point I'll be making is that since Google's own AdWords algorithms change frequently, systems that try to manage AdWords spend must be able to be tuned to react to more recent data.
In mid-February, for instance, the group was taken aback when they saw the number of searches drop unexpectedly. With their antennas keenly tuned for any sign that the economic slowdown could be hitting Google’s business, members of the team rushed to come up with a diagnosis...
The team determined that Google had suffered from a series of unrelated minor ailments. Mardi Gras and the Chinese New Year kept people away from their computers, while bad weather knocked out electricity in parts of China, Mr. Varian said.
They also mention what many of us have already noticed or intuited, that bad weather and strikes are good for Google (and us by extension) because it keeps people at home on their computers.
“Bad weather is good for Google, as long as it is not too bad,” Mr. Varian said.
Mr. Fox and his “ads quality” team can also quickly see whether something is working particularly well.
Looking at this from a publisher point of view (i.e. Adsense), I see that Mr. Fox and his team have a looooong way to go. There are still a lot of shady advertisers and ads floating in the system, poisoning the ad mix. Or: these ads and advertisers are in the system, BECAUSE Google wants them to be there, because it is their business to see ads, however crappy they may be.
Why they do not give publishers better tools to control ad quality on their own is totally beyond me? They clearly are not capable to do this quality control.
Just my $0.02
It's a slow day at the NY Times.
But, if you think that's no-news about the web, The Wall Street Journal ran this moldy-oldie today:
Some Google advertisers are upset their names are in ads for other sites. The problem is a tactic known as "piggybacking," in which smaller advertisers use major players' brand names, slogans or other trademarked words in the text of search ads to lure Web surfers to their own sites.
While Google and other search engines have policies against this maneuver, some marketers say the practice often goes unchecked.
What's the year today? 2001?
I doubt Mr. Fox's team first priority is the quality or perfomance of ads on any particular website other than Google.
From what people have determined from reading their SEC filings, this is likely very true. I've seen one estimate that about 80 percent of Google's ad income comes from their own sites.
You could say that the fault lies with the AdWords Select advertisers, for choosing simply "widgets" as a keyword to bid on, but Google should be able to do better.