Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Internal feud has degraded Google’s search feature

Published 8 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
In May 2019, Google changed its search results to make ad results less visible to users.

Google’s search function has deteriorated due to an internal conflict between employees on the advertising side and the search side. This is according to internal emails released in connection with the ongoing lawsuit against the tech giant.

Last year, a major lawsuit was launched against Google after the US Department of Justice sued the tech company for its use of anti-competitive practices. For example, the lawsuit recently revealed that Google paid Apple $20 billion to be the default search engine in the Safari browser.

Internal emails have also been released in connection with the lawsuit, according to the Better Offline podcast. In recent years, Google’s search function has been perceived as worse, which may have a likely explanation. Edward Zitron tells the podcast that he can trace an explanation in the email exchange back to 2019. Google’s head of advertising, Jerry Dischler, called an emergency meeting because ad revenue growth was not following the target curve, and he wanted the head of search, Ben Gomes, to address the problem. The ad execs wanted more page views, while the search execs said that was only possible by manipulating or “hacking” search results so that users had to try more terms to find what they were looking for.

Search manager reassigned

Gomes later sent an email to employees accusing the ad site, and in particular its then-head Prabhakar Raghavan, of manipulating search results to increase traffic. This, he said, was at the expense of users. Gomes’ suggestion was to improve the search function to bring users back and increase ad revenue. However, this did not happen, and in May 2019, Google introduced a change to search results that made advertising results less visible to users.

Five months later, the head of advertising, Raghavan, became the head of search development, and Gomeś was moved to another position where he no longer had influence over the search service. This is despite the fact that he has been involved in the development of Google’s search function for the past 19 years.

According to Zitron, Raghavan’s previous job was as head of search at Yahoo between 2005 and 2012, a period during which the search service’s market share shrank from 30 percent to 13 percent.

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