Google AdSense: Do no evil

I must say, I’m impressed with Google’s application of their company’s maxim “Do no evil” to the rough-and-tumble world of online advertising. Google requires valid tax information before they will send money earned through Google’s ad systems, and they are also prepared to withhold as much as necessary if the user has previously had a problem with the tax man. Google seems committed to preventing online tax fraud, which tends to run rampant in the virtual realm.

Let’s compare this with Second Life which, as far as I know, doesn’t require any tax information, even though people are supposedly quitting their real jobs and making a living solely in Second Life. What are the chances that all of these people are honestly reporting all of their (very real) virtual income? I’m willing to bet that the majority of money withdrawn from the Second Life game economy in the form of real currency ends up going unreported. And since these online companies can’t seemingly be trusted to regulate themselves (like Google does), it would seem like government regulation isn’t too far away. Nothing gets Uncle Sam more pissed off than people not paying their taxes. I suspect that, fairly soon, any online game that sanctions real-money trading (RMT) is going to be required to deal with tax issues, just like any real-life business that pays out money to workers.

By the way, I’ve been experimenting a little bit with the Google link box advertisement on this site. It looks better than the Google AdSense as it isn’t doesn’t appear so “commercial”, but then again, it doesn’t pay per impression. It only pays when someone clicks through to one of the links and then clicks on an ad from there. But still, it’s interesting. For instance, I can put it in the admin interface and see what Google thinks are the five most relevant phrases for my content. These make excellent primers for choosing tags to put on the post.

I could see link boxes being more readily accepted at Wikipedia than Google AdSense. People already often go to Wikipedia to find out information about a subject, so adding a few links to commercial resources would just provide added utility, and make WMF some money to help keep the servers running.

As for the earnings from Google AdSense impressions, so far I’ve made a big fat $0.00. I have made a tiny bit from two people that clicked on links. It’s starting to appear that the majority of the money people earn through AdSense is from ads being clicked, not from ads being viewed.

See more of my posts on Google AdSense.

Update: I think it’s best that I stop discussing AdSense for a little while, because every time I do, AdSense gets all meta on me and starts only displaying ads on the front page about AdSense and AdSense-related stuff. This is most definitely not A Good Thing. I think it’s some kind of Google self-defense mechanism. If Google AdSense is mentioned in any of the content, much unequal weight is given to that, probably as some sort of a defense against people trying to get attention to their ads by mentioning them.

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