Every time I use Google, especially when I’m trying to find a product review, I’m overwhelmed with sites that are trying to sell me something. Any word in my search term can set off a signal to bombard me with results from vendors. I don’t mind the Adsense listings in the right column, but the paid rankings is getting out of hand.
Google seems to be invading my life even more with sales pitches when I visit blogs and web sites. Everyone is seeing a gold rush with Adsense. But I’ve got to wonder just how many bloggers make money using it? It makes their pages look ugly and uninviting. It’s one thing if you’re making a living off your site, but it’s another thing just to junk up your layout because you have get rich quick fantasies.
Spam is the word for unwanted email, but I’m now wanting to broaden its definition to include all ads. Some web sites are looking like the hoods of race cars. Magazines are so filled with ads that publishers practically give subscriptions away as sales catalogs. I go to the movies and have to sit through an ever growing review of ads before the previews as well as having to overlook numerous ad placements being forced into the show. Trucks and buses are becoming roving billboards. I quit listening to radio years ago because of the obnoxious ads. If I didn’t have a DVR I wouldn’t be able to watch many of my favorite shows. Computers now come with crapware which is only a new form of advertising.
Spam is overwhelming our lives.
Microsoft seems to be going nuts trying to find a way to compete with Google. When is the ad boom going bust? What we need is the HBO of search engines – but would people pay for better search results? I’d pay $19.95 a year for a great search engine that found me what I wanted to know instead of sales pitches.
The trouble is a great non-ad search engine will be defeated if it only takes me to web pages full of ads. How often do you end up at web pages or blogs that are honey pots that tricked you into seeing a page full of ads?
If the free Internet is going to be ad-powered I’m not sure we don’t need a new Internet. I find most of my answers now at Wikipedia, which still uses the PBS model of financing. Strangely enough I’ve paid for the online Encyclopedia Britannica which uses the HBO model but I prefer the results from Wikipedia. Open source enterprises combined with subscriptions and donations could the way to go.
What I want when I go to the search engine is usually something specific. Not only is the information I want specific, but I also have a exact idea in mind for how I want my answer formatted. I want to buy a new HVAC, so I turned to the Internet for help. I want How-Tos, Tutorials, Product Reviews, Consumer Reports type articles, etc. What I would like in my dream search engine is a box for my query and a checkbox list of formats for how I want to receive the information. For example:
- Newspaper story
- Encyclopedia entry
- Magazine article
- Peer-reviewed academic journal
- Product Review
- Comparison shopping grid
- Sale offers
And so on. Sure, sometimes I do want to find a place to shop. Most of the time I don’t. Using Google now is like visiting a poor country and stepping off the plane to be mobbed by hundreds of hucksters and beggars. And as long as Google is free this is how it’s going to be. They have to make money to pay their overhead. Can’t blame them on that. But, I’m sick of ad-generated enterprises.
I’m not expecting a free lunch, but that’s what people have come to expect from the Internet. I think the businesses and advertising firms of the world need to think of ways to market their wares other than buckshot spamming. I know the current system is working for them and I tend to think most people accept things the way they are, so change is unlikely. I believe we have a whole generation of people used to being walking billboards with their clothing, and they have lived and breathed advertising their whole life and can’t think of anything different.
I’m not against shopping. I’m not against technology helping me find things to buy. I am tired of spamming, and I believe the world of advertising has become spammers. Google has succeeded magnificently in this method, so everyone is following them.
Recently I started researching social networking and found tons of sites about how to increase ranking or visitors. Everyone wants to manipulate Digg.com to increase their traffic and thus their ad revenues. In fact, some of the sites with the largest traffic are those that teach people how to generate large traffic – in other words, the Internet is becoming a giant pyramid scheme. Hordes flock to the Internet to make their fortunes only to learn that to make money requires getting other people to flock to their sites.
Google has unwittingly become the tool of this madness. Digg.com offers one method to overcome Google’s Achilles heel but only if you’re looking for what’s popular on the net at the moment. Ad driven sites are now trying to find ways to manipulate Digg.com.
During the early years of the World Wide Web it was promoted as a super Library. Mixed in with all those billions of current pages are ones that offer genuine information, the kind of data you go to a library to find. Wikipedia has become the shining light that draws people seeking knowledge. What we need is other information enterprises that are like Wikipedia and Digg.com that circumvent the ad generated gold rush.
One idea would be to create a Digg.com for long term ratings of web pages. Google does that by measuring how many links point to particular pages, but I assume this feature is overridden by paid rankings. Google could offer a non-ad version for a fee if they wanted and even combine Digg.com voting. The early form of Yahoo was based around a subject tree index of human reviewed web sites. That worked when the Internet was smaller. It might work again to make the Internet seem smaller and manageable by filtering out the noise.
I tend to think all gold rushes, like this ad generated one, eventually go bust. Pages will start disappearing when ad revenues don’t grow. Super sites will consolidate services. I think blogs will evolve and like personal web pages before the blogging era, will lose their appeal to most people. Blogging will succeed as a form of personal communication but I don’t think many people will ever make money at it.