Very interesting news yesterday about Google Adsense and competing ad networks. From ClickZ:
Google plans to open its AdSense network to other ad networks, potentially giving the already huge ad net access to display ads flowing through countless other networks. The firm yesterday said it will allow networks to bid via auction to have their ads appear on AdSense partner sites, like an exchange. Google is vetting several ad networks for certification, but would not name any of the networks. If accepted into the program, the networks would receive payment if their ads win the auction to appear on AdSense sites. The firm said networks will be able to target contextually or by placement. The company suggested the offering will help boost publisher revenues by increasing competition for ad placements.
Now this can be seen a number of ways. First, is this an admission by Google that they do not have good enough display advertising inventory and/or relationships? Maybe, maybe not. Seems to me more of a statement that Google considers Adsense more of a platform for advertising, rather than a network into itself. Second, if you ran an ad network, would you want to do this? Well, ad networks tend to optimize for the most money. If Adsense gives them more money, they just might want to do this. Third, what about the data? Google will learn an awful lot about what is going on with each network once they plus themselves into the Adsense hivemind.
And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Remember what happened with search? AOL, Netscape, Yahoo, and many others fed the Google search beast until Google had all the data and therefore the best search engine. When it came time for renegotiation of those search deals, who had the upper hand?
It’s all about the data, to my mind.