free html hit counter AdWords API Debacle - John Battelle's Search Blog

AdWords API Debacle

By - January 08, 2007

Picture 1-42VentureBeat has a nice editorial surmising the impact of Google’s controversial decision from April to begin charging a licensing fee for use of its AdWords API this month:

Just trying to understand the API pricing in a specific business situation is a challenge, as is clear from seeing the Google price sheet. The billing appears as a large, non itemized bill.

The structure of the API fees will also significantly impact several areas of the software industry. Since API cost scales with frequency of access, there are very negative implications to companies who would like to use Google data in a real time web analytics platform. Given that Google offers a free low end analytics tool, could this be a hint that Google will be targeting higher end web analytics in the future?

Venture investors would need to be aware of how open Google will be with APIs going forward. Any startup that is working on a mashup that would take information from Google via an API would have an increased level of risk. (What if Google begins to charge for the spreadsheet API, or the maps API?) Just this week, it appears that Google is removing new access to its SOAP search API as well.

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9 thoughts on “AdWords API Debacle

  1. JG says:

    “First one’s free.. then ya gotta pay, kid.”


  2. Andy Redfern says:

    Google comment on this by saying “Please note that certain developers who design proprietary applications to advertise their own businesses may be eligible for free API unit allocations”

    This can be found at

    For commercial developers this is undoubtable controversial but if you are developing applications in-house it worth speaking to your Google representative.

  3. Equipower says:

    Google is definitely evil and greedy. I hope this move proves wrong later on. Easy API to advertising platform is one of the reasons why people are using the advertising platform – look at other players – Yahoo, Microsoft – I would say that quality of their traffic is way better but the lack of API presence and good admin panel is a big disadvantage.

  4. Keith Cash says:

    Google has now become a large corporation, No one knows how the customers are charged, just that the customers are paying what ever Google asks.

    I wish my business was like Google

  5. SearchTheWeb2 is an AdWords API application to Search. Using fee is just a business expense.

  6. Google charging for API usage is going to limit companies using all of the API’s functionalities, as we all are concerned about going over quotes and paying for the overage. Internally we are going to use it to extract data, which should keep our costs down. The idea of making bid and copy changes on large scales is just not worth the extra costs when you are working with hundred of thousands of keywords. We are just going to rely more on Google’s reps to make changes to our campaigns, which I would think would be more costly to Google in the end…

  7. gio says:

    This can be a disadvantage for common internet marketers like me because we still need to pay for it to start learning. I think it can bad for google too because this would only limit the users.

  8. Ron Drabkin says:

    Hi – thanks for the interest in the article. I wrote this one for the VCs etc at venturebeat. I’ll do a follow up article with a more technical spin over at John Musser’s in the next couple of weeks.

    Ron Drabkin

  9. John says:

    Hi John,

    This is off topic but I wanted to get your thoughts on a speech made by Bill Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform. I did a quick post on it at my blog with links to the video and the transcript, it’s really worth a look. A very passionate speech: