Saturday, October 20, 2007

Google Adsense Flaw - Attribution!

Microsoft was fast to point out a severe flaw in the Google Adsense business model.  The problem is attribution of all the websites that contribute to persons inclination to click on a google AdSense ad.

The Problem with Adsense Attribution


How many times have you surf the Internet and seeing an ad and almost clicked on it.  Maybe it's five maybe it's 10 pages later you see the ad again over and over and over, and you finally click on it.  The website that you happen to be on where you click on the ad is attributed with conversion.  They receive half of the advertising fee and Google gets the other half.

Even more problematic is when someone sees the attribute over multiple websites, and then performs a google search to learn more about the advertisement.  All of those websites that carry the advertisement get zero attribution for their work.  Sometimes a person to does the Web search clicks on a Google ad from the Web search site and Google gets paid and no one else receives a dime.

Microsoft of all people (and competitors) pointed out this flaw this week and PC World was quick to jump on it.  Google Gets Undue Credit for Ad Conversions

The interesting thing is that Microsoft hinted that they might just have the ability to solve this problem, presumably with their own advertising tool and not Google's.  It will be interesting to understand just how they might split the revenues from multiple attributions.

Furthermore, hinting at the problem and the ability to solve it is very unlike Microsoft.  They could have just rolled out a fix and taken Google by surprise.  The reality is that Google could roll out such a fix easily today as they already track ad impressions. 

However, Google may be a victim of their own success.  If they applied attribution today, many publishers that get lucky at the end of a chain would receive less and those attributers along the way would receive more.  Getting Google to clean up its PPC business, might be about as easy as getting Lindsay Lohan to stay in drug rehab.  It might just take a Microsoft to save the PPC industry from itself.

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