Is this an ad?

Plenty has been made of Google’s recently announced pay-per-action beta (where advertisers pay not for a user clicking over to their site, but only if they take some defined action such as filling out a web form, downloading a whitepaper or purchasing product).

Few people (notable exception TechCrunch, although for some reason the thread doesn’t seem to have been discussed widely) are talking about something that was buried in the release:

With this new pricing model, advertisers can create text or image ads in addition to using Google’s new text link ad format, which are brief text descriptions that take on the characteristics of a publisher’s page. [emphasis added]

So basically you can now disguise your advertising to look like a link on your site, embedded in the site itself rather than in its own clearly identified area (“ads powered by Google AdSense”).  While affiliate marketing links abound on many web pages (click on a book review from a blog and you can be sure the blog owner gets a cut when you make your purchase) I don’t like the step Google is taking here at all.

The idea behind pay-per-action is to fight click-fraud not to create more bogus clicks by masking what’s advertising and what’s not.


  • I think that this signals the end of Adsense’s relationship with pay per click.
    PPC is just brimming with click fraud – google will never be able to catch all the cheaters.
    Sad, too. Because it works for publishers and advertisers. And PPA won’t be as lucrative for publishers and won’t be as compelling for advertisers.

  • Chris

    I think that it’s silly to say PPA is a bad thing. Google is moving in the right direction. Think about this:
    “The idea behind pay-per-action is to fight click fraud not to create more bogus clicks” – if your action is a sale, then what do u care as an advertiser if more people click? On the publisher side, if you design a bogus looking ad to entice more clicks, but none of that traffic converts, then your ‘quality score’ goes down, and less ads are served to you. And can u imagine google not implementing some kind of ‘score’ or measure to gauge a site’s effectiveness (clickthrough vs conversion)?
    To the second point in the comments, how can you make the determination that PPA is gonna be less lucrative than CPC????? Think about it: if click fraud is eliminated, and bids rise to the natural CPA (cost per acquisition) level that the advertisers can afford, this is gonna be a much much higher level bid than in a CPC program. Its basic marketing analysis.

  • Google will still continue using CPC Rick