[iDC] Are We Google's Paint? Keywords?

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Thu Jan 22 23:35:35 UTC 2009

Thanks Brad - this is interesting:
> at one point, I noticed that these pages were getting
> massive amounts of hits based solely on their page-titles,
> so as an experiment I gradually added more and more
> google-ad-word banners...
> at first with only a few hundred or so ads, I was generating
> $30-40 a month, but the more pages I added (or perhaps the
> longer the ads were online? -- it's a secret goggle payment
> formula apparently), the _less money I made! it finally
> became so trivial that I started pulling all the ads off...

Which also goes to the point I'd like to make with respect to Andreas'  
comments about Google standing on advertising as its 'leg'. Of course  
if you want to take a straight political economy approach this is  
obviously the case.

On the other hand, and this is what is intimated by Brad's experiments  
and observations, Google has monumentally transformed advertising and  
its place in web economies...one can analyse this in terms of the  
political economy of value and exchange, eg how has Google transformed  
the 'click' into the unit of web currency? But then again it's not so  
simple as there also seem to be other quantitative and algorithmic  
operations that determine revenue generation, which are 'secret' ie  
proprietorial and upon which Google depends in order to generate ad  
revenue through multiple means.

So what we have here is not simply a 'new business model' for   
advertising in a web-based economy but a whole new way of doing  
'market research', of creating 'attention' to optimize 'market  
share',  based not upon audiences but rather on the measurement of  
pure data (keywords, click-throughs etc), the securitised deployment  
of automated mechanisms and operations  and the deployment of   
massively distributed micro-payment systems. A way of bypassing 'the  
human' and transforming pure data into pure money (on the proviso we  
ignore the corollary of 'free labour').

Consequently 'audience' has  become pure stats for automated  
manipulation. I think this is quite different from, say, Amazon's  
operations (although obviously Google has also experimented with some  
of this with its 'preferred searches' for example).

Hence, a straight political economy analysis kind of falls  
away....Google doesn't have one leg nor perhaps does it have many  
arms...it's probably more like a hydra -  a deceptively simple  
organism with two body layers, no brain and no true muscles but  
comprised entirely of a nerve net (interconnected neurons but no  
centralisation), a remarkable regenerative ability and apparently very  
rarely undergoing senescence....


> /:b

A/Prof. Anna Munster
Deputy Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
School of Art History and Art Education
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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