Defending Google

A friend recently posted an article to the Information System forum community that makes the claim that Google Search is only 18.5% Search, citing the following screenshot. See full article.

 serp2

To which I respond that I'm going to side with Google here.  For one, that article seems to imply that the remaining 81.5% of the page is filled with irrelevant ad-related content for Google.  Classic example of using favorable "statistics" to prove a point, right?  Quite a bit of the page is taken by white space, menus, and links relating to other google services.  I agree that the author has a point, but to accurately compare the two it seems like search results real estate vs. ad real estate should be compared, not total screen space.  His screen shot also only shows the view from a single monitor.  On my 16:9 screen (I'm guessing his is 4:3) there is much more empty, negative space that makes the page feel balanced and keeps the ads from dominating.  Seems very relative.

My personal opinion is that if you don't like the way a free service supports its business (e.g. ads, soliciting donations, other), then don't use the service.   I feel like free, ad-supported services are a great business model in certain markets and tend to roll my eyes internally when I hear rants about Facebook ads, wikipedia donation requests, and even the less-obtrusive google Adwords.  My brother worked on the bing digital advertising team at Microsoft for a few years, so maybe he rubbed off on me, but I have no problem with a few ads in my search results.  These companies work long and hard to serve up relevant ads that are at best something helpful you could use or are interested in and at worst something you can easily skip over.