Okay, first let’s go with Google’s motivation.
As I was sitting down with my friend John the other night and discussing my question about Google’s overall motivation (“Google doesn’t have any real motivation for improving search results because the worse the results are, the more likely you are to click on the ads.”), John brought up a point that made even more sense. Imagine a situation where Google continues to improve their results. Eventually their engine becomes so good that you immediately click the first result (which it’s close to) or you begin to just skip the results altogether by clicking “I’m Feeling Lucky”. If that happens, all of a sudden the money printing machine Google’s created stops running. Of course this is an overstatement, but does illustrate a point: From a financial motivation perspective, clearly Google is only motivated to improve it’s results to a point that they continue to grow their customer base (which is less based on quality at this point and more based on momentum and partnerships like the one they have with Myspace or Firefox).
So what does all this mean? To be honest I’m not sure. I just think it’s interesting. I don’t necessarily believe that Google is making decisions this way, however, it does pose some potential issues.
Second, let’s talk a little about PayPerPost. I don’t know if I’ve written about it here before, but basically it’s a service that pays bloggers to write about websites, companies, products and other stuff. When they first launched around a year ago (at least I think that’s when it was) there was an uproar in the blogosphere. People were up in arms that this wan unethical and disgusting. More recently Google cracked down on the service as a paid link scheme, assigning PageRanks of 0 to those that took part. This, of course, has reignited the debate around the ethics of the program (many were happy to see users punished) and I wanted to add my two cents.
I have never seen a problem with PayPerPost. I know this isn’t a popular stance, but my feeling is that your reputation is yours to ruin and if you chose to promote a product that sucks and you get found out, you got what you deserved. As for the full disclosure part of it, I don’t really care that much. Paid editorial is the worst kept secret in the advertising/publishing business: You don’t get editorial space if you’re not running advertising. (Obviously this isn’t completely true, but it’s an accepted fact.) So what’s the difference between PayPerPost and what’s going on everywhere else in the media universe?
I guess I mostly am writing this to stir things up a bit (though I really do believe in both points of view). Not sure why I’m feeling contrarian today, but what the hell, it’s a fun way to be.