It’s possible we would all be happier if we stopped trying to make sense of things.
It’s five in the morning, after all, and I might be wrong, but I see an article by PJ Media about a conservative web site, (The Liberty Conservative) pressured by Google into pulling one of its articles or risk losing all of its ad revenue. As I read the story, I couldn’t help noticing, half-way down the PJ Media piece, that Google itself had served up an ad with this headline, “Bill O’Reilly Flees the US.”
I screen cap the details…
The link in question takes you to to a site with the name “runwayfinequeen,” but with a Fox News header. The “Fox News Menu” doesn’t provide any navigation to stories about 25 lb twin babies born in the Amazon to a vacationing Charlize Theron. Considering the preposterous nature of the story itself, of course, and the name of the URL, if you even clicked on this link, you would likely sniff “fake news” very quickly, but — who knows? — there are likely some James Hodgkinson types out there, anxiously nursing their confirmation bias and strong candidates for what “runwayfinequeen” is selling.
But here’s the real kicker. When you close this fake news site, (or hacked site), this Google-approved advertiser gets very “hard sell.” As in, literally hard sell.
(Sorry. There’s just no way to experience what Google allows their own advertisers to do without seeing it.)
But let’s do some ponderin’ and cipherin’ here. Google, presumably in the interest of making sure the news is legitimate, dictates editorial policy to one of its publishers. Meanwhile, Google allows an advertiser to steal Fox News trademarks, viciously libel a Fox News personality, all in the name of inviting us to ponder the benefits of more testosterone. I might get in trouble, again, for trying to make sense of this but Google may well respond, “look, advertisers are whores; they can say whatever they want. Blogs and News sites, however, have to abide by a truth standard.” I guess you have to add “even if the advertisers actually delegitimize actual news sites in the process.” So when a writer attempts to make a distinction between the “Alt-Right” and “Nazis,” well that is just too much to abide. Building better boners, on the other hand, through outright lies about Bill O’Reilly? No harm, no foul.
I’ve been on the web since 1997 and I’ve done a lot of advertising. I’ve purchased ads and I’ve sold ads on the sites I publish. (I’m not a big time advertiser, but Google has supplied Mary Riley with a lot of barbecue swag if that means anything.) A few years ago, I compared what I paid Google for ads with what they paid me for impressions. I’m not sure if this has changed, or if my case is representative, but for every 10 cents Google pays me, they charged $1.00 to the folks who advertised on my site. Their margin, in my case was 90%.
And, keeping the PJ Media story in mind, Google wants a lot more impressions and they aren’t above advising advertisers to get a little dirty. When I reviewed my Adsense Account this morning, Google thought I could get a little more ad revenue if I “allow ads from sensitive categories…”
So what are those sensitive categories that Google wants me to consider? “Black magic, astrology & esoteric, Cosmetic procedures, Dating, Drugs, Gambling, Politics, Sex & Sexuality, Religion, Reproductive Health.” That last is likely a pitch for abortion advertising.
It’s too early. I can’t make any sense of it.
Except for one thing — that 90% margin. Some advertising service — one that believes in the benefits of the first amendment — might want to get into the biz.