A significant portion of the advertising revenue generated by written digital content falls, directly and indirectly, into the pockets of one organization, Google.
The company is pulling two hands out of the value pot, making billions of dollars from ads on search listings (filled with free curated material from the web) and earning commissions by placing ads on the content itself. increase.
The lack of competition between search and digital advertising means Google has virtually no freedom to set prices. As a result, in the words of US Senator Mike Lee (opens in new tab), “exclusive royalties are imposed on all ad-supported websites.”
When the market dynamics are structured this way, it’s hard not to conclude that publishers and other content creators are making a bad deal. However, some believe that this need not be the case.
SEO company Ahrefs is developing a new search engine called Yep built on top of its own index that is completely independent from Google. It is designed to redistribute advertising revenue in a more equitable manner.
For every dollar of advertising revenue Yep generates, Ahrefs is committed to splitting $0.90 among the creators of the content that makes up its list.
Ahrefs CEO Dmitro Gerasimenko. (Image credit: Ahrefs)
Ahrefs CEO Dmytro Gerasymenko said in a conversation with TechRadar Pro: “Creators who make search results possible deserve to be paid for their work.”
While this argument is undoubtedly compelling, it leaves us with a small problem: a review of the Internet’s most dominant company.
Ahrefs first started developing its own search engine in 2019. It is based on two main premises. The web’s economy is broken, and two, things can’t get better as long as Google remains unshakable in search.
The main objective is to rebalance compensation in favor of digital content creators who Ahrefs believes make too little money from their products. Under the current system, “it’s like the index on the back cover has become more valuable than the book itself,” the company’s website quipped.
However, revenue sharing systems also have multiple potential side benefits. For example, higher profit margins open the door to a variety of niche content types that aren’t currently viable, Gerasymenko said.
“On YouTube, a portion of the revenue is shared with content creators. Without this system, a lot of media would not exist,” he told us.
“We realized that the Internet was missing a large portion of the content that could have been created if Google shared advertising revenue with creators.”
Apart from that, the Yep system may go some way to address the dangerous side effects of the ad-supported model that has played a role in polluting the information landscape.
Yep.com, Ahrefs’ new search engine. (Image credit: Ahrefs)
Since the revenues of ad-supported content creators are tied closely to the amount of traffic they can generate, they are financially incentivized to misrepresent or exaggerate the value of their content. . The result is clickbait and misinformation.
Gerasymenko himself has not commented on this point, but by offering publishers new ways to generate revenue, they may be able to limit the amount of pressure they feel to track clicks.
Stakeholders such as Google have typically shown benefits in terms of inclusivity when challenged about the negative impacts of their ad-supporting model. Without advertising, online content that is currently available for free would have to be pay gated to remain viable for providers, the argument continues.
Google declined to comment for the record for this article, but a spokesperson provided background on the fact that advertising is essential to a healthy internet ecosystem where all participants have access to information regardless of their financial status. says he’s thinking
The spokesperson also said that Google is committed to showing only relevant ads, and that the majority of search result pages over the past few years have not advertised on Summit for that reason.
But as evidenced by new antitrust measures on both sides of the Atlantic, people question whether such justification for the company’s dominance across the digital advertising chain really makes sense. I’m starting to see
Ahrefs’ motivation for the search project is laudable and logically correct, but the concept is beginning to fall apart somewhat under scrutiny.
One of the main problems is that the product doesn’t exist yet. Ahrefs isn’t ready to implement a revenue sharing model. One reason is that search engines haven’t yet generated their first dollar of ad revenue.
A spokeswoman for Ahrefs said the focus is now on improving search results to a level that is “satisfactory in terms of quality estimates” and only then will the company see the practicality and logistics of the revenue-sharing system. He said he would pay attention to
“Currently our algorithm works well for short queries, but we need to improve for long queries. We also want to get images, news and videos,” Gerasymenko added.
“The project itself is difficult. Very few companies actually do search algorithms. to do, which is difficult and time consuming.”
Until Ahrefs improves the quality of its products, neither users nor advertisers will be attracted. And until revenue-sharing concepts are tested at scale, it’s difficult to assess whether a generous 90:10 split is sustainable in the long run.
Ahrefs may already own some of the infrastructure needed to run a search engine, but improving the quality of results is no small feat. (Image credit: Ahrefs)
Apart from that, to achieve the level of transformation Ahrefs wants, yes, it needs to become one of the most widely used search engines in the world. Until publishers are confident that the new model is a reliable source of income, it would be foolish to abandon traditional forms of monetization.
But as Google’s actions in markets ranging from web browsers to devices to operating systems show, it’s not going to give up its search monopoly anytime soon.
Adding to the complexity is the need to identify which websites and creators deserve compensation under the revenue sharing scheme. In other words, the need to inject fairness into the process.
The initial plan is to share revenue with hundreds of smaller websites.
The idea is to roll out some form of automated system for determining the appropriate split of rewards once the service is established, but it will be as specific as possible.
The easiest way is to distribute the rewards based on the number of visitors who reach each website from the Yep search results. But in this scenario, the race for clicks begins again.
Chance or Chance
Publishing a new vision for a search engine would be a risky move, with few details being worked out and Ahrefs being asked more questions than he can currently answer.
As a company whose primary business is helping website owners improve their Google search rankings, Ahrefs also risks violating one of life’s most useful rules. In a world with multiple widely used search engines, helping a customer optimize her SEO is not so easy.
But when asked to describe each of the challenges facing new businesses, Gerasymenko never wavered in his belief in the value and importance of ideas.
“I know it works at scale,” he told us. “The problem for us is moving from scratch to the scale where ideas start to make sense.”
In some respects, Ahrefs has taken the time to address this issue. The company claims that in most cases it can support search projects with the resources it already expends in its regular activities in the SEO market. So the additional overhead is minimal.
Ahrefs also hopes new antitrust laws will help, limiting the extent to which Google can use the depth and reach of its product suite to prevent challengers from gaining momentum in search. There is
It may be justified to ask whether Ahrefs has fully internalized the enormity of its task of radically reinventing the Internet’s most dominant company. But only dreamers can redefine the status quo.
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