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What If Google Had a “PPC Only” Search Engine?

Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Author: dslagen | Filed under: Optimization | 3 Comments »

I was at SMX West last week listening to Google’s Susan Wojcicki speak with Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman. They covered off on a bunch of subjects ranging from Larry and Sergey working out of Susan’s garage, to privacy concerns, the future of mobile and ad relevancy. One question that Danny had struck me like a bolt of lightning, which was “What if Google had a PPC only search engine?”

The question came up randomly during a conversation on ad blocking within Google. My initial reaction was that an all paid search engine wouldn’t work in this day in age considering social media, 25% of people are even paying attention to paid search and the negative connotations that are generally associated with paid search. As a paid search extremist, however, I spent the night thinking about it.

Imagine a fully transparent site, in which all ads/listings were paid listings. A place where paid search is held to a higher standard by not only the search engine, but by the target audience as well. It’s no secret that a well-built paid search program is well received by users as well as profitable, the problem is that these campaigns are few and far between. The majority of campaigns are too aggressive and/or not forthcoming with users in conjunction with needs and expectations across the pre and post click experience.

At the moment, Google +1 is viewable across paid search ads, but there could be so much more. Take Yelp or Amazon style reviews into consideration in which customers could rate their experience.

Experience could be rated in a few different ways, including the post click experience and if what was promised in the ad was consistent on the landing page. Additionally, reviews could address whether or not the landing page, response mechanisms and overall customer experiences were enjoyable or not.

The compelling part about an all paid search engine would be that the highest quality companies would rise to the top while the chop shop style campaigns wouldn’t last based on negative ratings. It would be a place to hold paid search accountable and to the highest standard that it deserves.

Is it just a dream?


Dan Slagen of HubSpot

Dan Slagen is Head of Paid Lead Generation at HubSpot, a marketing software company in Cambridge, MA.


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