There is a glaring conflict of interest as others have pointed out; it cannot be ignored. Through strategic acquisitons such as Doubleclick, Google and its subsidiaries are the largest warehouse of advertising on the www. The company is the machine that keeps web advertising humming along.
Google wants to keep everyone happy. Users are fed up with advertising. For example, Google could offer a search engine free of any ads, as they did in the early days.FN1 They have more than enough cash to do it. This would make users very happy. Google could try to support itself by selling something, besides advertising. But this will not happen. Why? (Rhetorical question. Not asking for an answer. We all know what it is.)
By creating a web-advertising juggernaut and collecting the maximum allowable quantity information about users through every means legally possible, (far beyond merely search engine usage) Google has taken a position against users (the ones who dislike ads) as well as for them (as argued in myriad PR pieces).
Google is not curbing it own actions (as the #1 promoter of advertising on the www), instead it is taking aim at advertisers. Some of those could be existing or potential clients (which might seem intriguing).
But while its clients (be they advertisers, users or others) may experience "losses", like Goldman (or not; sorry, bad analogy!), Google always "wins".
Any PR piece proclaiming that Google is taking sides with users (for a "better web") ignores that they also have taken sides with advertisers. Google has big bets on advertising. As everyone knows, users do not contribute significant inputs to the Google balance sheet; advertisers do.
FN1 At that time one of the Google founders called out advertising as being something to avoid. Interestingly, there was no "disruptive" vs "non-disruptive" advertising distinction.
This reasoning doesn't make sense to me. Many startups offer their services for free or low cost, burning cash, to acquire users/mind-share until they find a way to be profitable. Google and Facebook found advertising as that way, and thus survived instead of running out of money. And are able to offer their services for free.
"Google should ditch that and start again" doesn't even start to make sense.
And he covers this with the rhetorical question: They can do these things, but they don't, because being as anti-user as possible (while putting out the occasional fluff PR piece) earns them billions and billions and billions of dollars.
He's basically saying "Google could remove advertising and figure out how to make money without being one of the most user-hostile organizations in software history, but they don't because their hostility to privacy and their revolution in combining aggressively curated private data with advertising has made them one of the richest corporations in history"
what is this elsewhere of which you speak? Google apps for your domain? Youtube red? Android licensing fees?
The truth can be seen from the way users behave. Nobody wants to pay any money for online services, and if google were to stop advertising, they'd basically be bankrupt as the userbase is not willing to pay the equivalent amount to google that they derive from selling user data.
As an example, Facebook might sell you the ability to target people between ages 12 and 20 located in major metropolitan centers in the US. You never bought any user data that let you flag individual users, but you are still "using" the data.
(Disclaimer and also claim to authority: I worked in ad tech.)
It's the same with Google, you cannot control your data and what they do with it.
I'm not sure why people keep saying that Google and Facebook is selling user data. Does that mean that if those companies started to actually do it, it wouldn't bother the claimants as they consider it being done already? Seems to me like an important distinction to make.
In comparison, are Uber selling software? Rather than using software to sell a service?
Can I find out what data Google has on me?
Amazon doesn't directly sell you the AWS infrastructure. But they rent it to you. Google is doing something akin to that. If they had an opt out saying "Don't use my private data to show me ads" I'd no longer make the point they sell my data. But they don't provide any opt-out, and the effect is identical to my data being sold to advertisers.
If a company sold your information, you can say bye bye to being able to restrict what that information is and who has it; you might as well consider it public from that point on. I don't think anybody in their right mind would call that difference a technicality.
Google does provide the opt out you say they don't, too: Browsing in incognito mode.
I think that's the GP's point -- but Google has enough cash in the bank that they could probably continue to provide services indefinitely if they took the decision to divest themselves of advertising and re-organise themselves appropriately.
I wish this meme would die already. Youtube red cannot be purchased in half the world. Google the search engine does not even have pay-for-no-ads offering that I know of.
You can't say they actually tried to get money from users yet.
If that were the case Chrome's disruptive ad blocker would have been released shortly after the rise of flash ads
If that were the case I would be able to completely opt out of tracking and accept slightly less targeted ads
We could go on and on here. Suffice to say I do not believe Google's incentives align with most on the web any more.
This seems like an odd argument. Are uBlock's incentives unaligned with yours because they didn't release their adblocker earlier? What does the timing of the release have to do with anything?
> If that were the case I would be able to completely opt out of tracking and accept slightly less targeted ads
You can opt out of tracking and ad targeting
Not really a fair comparison - uBlock aren't selling ads. Google are and have been for a decade. There have been many occasions that search has been compromised via advertising from the days of SERPs being mostly adsense mini sites years ago. The response to those also took years despite search being near ruined. Google could have done far more far sooner.
I'm kind of at my wits end... it's severely degrading my experience. Thinking of just disabling it for now and just relying on uBO
I wonder if we're heading into a new era where online advertisements will become indistinguishable from non-ads. For example, a picture of your friend vs a picture of your friend with a soda bottle subtly added. That would be more tolerable to most everyone when compared to a flashy gif of that soda bottle bouncing around in your browser.
> viewer's rights to unadulterated content
Not that I necessarily agree with you that this should be a right, but where in the world is anyone enforcing this as a right?
Doesn't google still make like 80% of its revenue off advertising in search? If its true, then they really don't have the money to drop it
And instead of viewing it as double-betting, it can just as easily be seen as a compromise. They still want to advertise, and makes sense for them to want to, and the truly troublesome ads are poisoning the water for everyone, by leading (normal) people to total solutions ie adblock. Which is bad for business. In which case, you should expect them to find a middle-ground solution, and it would be absurd for google to move in either direction too strongly (because the money's not there).
Its not that they're taking sides, but that they're trying not to.
The point is, they're not only a near-monopoly in web advertising, but also have very detailed data about their competitors (via GA and many other products) AND now are controlling the channel for 60% of users. It's unbelievable they managed to pull this out and still so few people seem to care.
I hear the job is great, and the technical challenges are certainly wonderful, but Google and Facebook are the perfect setup for a turn-key tyranny.
what could they possibly sell that would even come close to replacing ad revenue?
Google should be broken up over this type of behaviour. Spend too much money in Washington though.