By “low” I am not referring to the stock price, which is now down $100 since my blog entry predicting their miss :) , rather I am referring to sacrificing good user experience on their SERP for making more cash.
Google is now testing longer abstracts for the ads above the web results, these abstracts go as long as 200 characters (2 to 4 lines on some screens). This is opposite to what Yahoo is doing, in mid January Yahoo moved towards shorter abstracts. The only reason to do longer abstracts for ads is to make more money by pushing the good web results further below the fold. The first time I heard about these longer abstract tests, I said to my self Google must be doing this for the adsense network, and then I was blown away to see them actually testing them on the main Google SERP.
It will really be interesting to see how the Google SERP evolves this year. It seems that Google ran out of innovations for the algorithms matching ads to queries, so now the main way to create more growth is to change their SERP. Currently Google shows up to 3 ads above the web results in the north section of the page, will we see 4 soon ?
Finally, did you see today’s WSJ article about Google paying Dell $1B (yes, billion) so that new machines Dell sells will have Google as the default search in IE! This is an insane payment, as much as $10 per machine. Do they really expect to make that search money back over the life time of the user ? Possibly if it’s a new user who never leaves them, but how many of those are left ?