Have you ever searched for a very specific company or product and landed first on an ad while the relevant answer was obvious?
You can search for a lot of very specific terms and watch Google spit an ad out at you first instead of the actual site. Instinctively, the first thing that you do is click the first link which then takes you to the site which you would have gone to anyway.
I am sure the gods of AI can figure out how to avoid having the same link repeated twice at the top of the page. Instead, they chose to do this. They want the ad to be displayed first.
With revenue growth slowing at Google’s search business, I can’t help but feel that Google is screwing over all of its advertisers. They are using their dominance as a platform to ensure that they generate income where none should be. This is akin to a ‘Google Tax’ that startups/businesses need to pay if their ads are running on Google.
Makes me wonder how much VC money has found its way back straight to Google through the use of tactics like this!
There are companies that have managed to protect themselves from these kinds of tactics. If you search Uber or Ola, neither seem to be running ads. Or at least they have figured out how to avoid getting screwed by Google.
Either way, for lesser funded startups, this is very dangerous. They have limited capital and Google is constantly squeezing it out by pushing their ads where it should not be at all. For the moment, I do not see any escape so long as Google is in a position of dominance in search. As a startup, you just need to be mindful and careful with how you place your ads.