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Does Google’s “Site Reputation Abuse” Power Endanger All of Us? - Martech Record

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses Google's new policy on "site reputation abuse" and its impact on news and content publishers, as well as leading coupon publishers. It also raises concerns about the power of a single tech company to significantly impact the business of its competitors.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Impact on News and Content Publishers

1. What is Google's new policy on "site reputation abuse"?

  • Google considers third-party pages hosted on news and content sites with little to no oversight or involvement from the hosting site, and whose main purpose is to manipulate search rankings, as a form of "site reputation abuse".
  • Google has decided to de-rank such third-party pages, such as sponsored, advertising, or partner coupon pages, in search results.

2. How has this policy impacted news and lifestyle properties that had revenue-sharing coupon pages on their domains?

  • Many large news and lifestyle properties had revenue-share coupon pages on their domains, which enabled them to deliver significant value to their viewers while earning substantial revenue.
  • This revenue was high-margin and important for funding the expensive news operations, even when the news was in print.
  • The decision has provoked strong opinions on both sides within the industry, with some defending the third-party coupon pages on reputable sites and others supporting Google's decision.

[02] Impact on Coupon Publishers

1. How has the policy impacted leading coupon and deal sites?

  • The policy has had a positive impact on the traffic of leading coupon and deal sites.
  • However, some coupon sites had scaled down resources dedicated to coupons because big news organizations were taking market share. Now they are unsure whether to reallocate resources back to coupons, given the uncertainty around Google's next move.

2. How does the article characterize Google's approach to this issue?

  • The article suggests that Google's approach was not a thoughtful one, but rather a "sledgehammer approach" that will scare away anyone with the experience and resources to approach coupons thoughtfully.
  • The article argues that Google should have followed up to determine what oversight policies news organizations had, or worked with coupon publishers as partners to rebuild.

[03] The Bigger Issue

1. What is the larger issue raised in the article?

  • The article argues that the larger issue is how the decisions of one large tech company, Google, which drives 77.8% of its revenue from the same marketing and advertising budgets as the affected companies, can up-end an industry overnight.
  • The article questions whether any one company should have the power to hobble its competitors in this way.

2. What concerns does the article raise about Google's motivations and actions?

  • The article acknowledges that Google's decisions are often couched in terms of helping consumers, but it suggests that Google may have a strong business interest in the coupon industry and could ultimately come for the coupon business as a whole.
  • The article states that it is not accusing Google of using site reputation abuse enforcement as a part of a master plan, but it argues that companies rarely act against their own interests.

3. What does the article suggest the industry should do?

  • The article argues that the industry should recognize that its fortunes are too vulnerable to the subjective decisions of one competitor, and that it should band together to promote the health and vitality of the industry and challenge existential risks, rather than focusing on "inside baseball" fights with other partnership marketing companies.
  • The article warns that if the industry does not do this, it may find the rug pulled out from under the entire industry, and be powerless to stop it.
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