Google's AdSense program is wildly successful, more so than most people know. Today they've announced two big changes.
The first is monetizing syndicated Google Search. This is called WebSearch plus AdSense. The second is an AdSense preview tool. The preview tool will excite current AdSense subscribers -- its been a high demand feature. Both changes require AdSense membership to realize the benefits.
The preview tool is clearly useful. But are the WebSearch changes significant? I say somewhat, but for whom exactly, I'm not sure. The syndicated WebSearch has been out for a while. The addition of local branding and AdSense was inevitable.
The big question that comes to mind is "can I now use Google to search my local sites". The answer there has not changed. For most practical purposes, it is still "no". What the new features give you is a co-branded, monetized side exit to your website.
Do people really want this? Perhaps. Does Google want this? Definitely.
You can use WebSearch to search either the web or your own site. However, the Google index still will not have your latest pages for between 2-30 days and the search results pages are hosted by Google. What this means in real terms is that you can use WebSearch to search ....the web!
Who Wants This?
This feature seems to be targeted at folks that want to allow users to search the web, using Google, and be able to monetize some percentage of exit clicks. That's a small step in the right direction and also ensures that a smaller percentage of visitors will leave your site, after searching.
But in the end, isn't this service just providing another doorway for folks to leave your website? And if so, is this doorway monetized enough to be a good thing? I doubt it.
You want to have local search and you want to monetize an inevitable exit. WebSearch plus AdSense does not give you both.
Who Really Wants This
After thinking this through, I don't see a compelling reason to implement this service. What I do see is Google trying to move beyond the toolbar and directly into your website.
The search engine war is hotting up. A recent survey by Insight Express found that 60 percent of Google users would switch if something better came along.
I see WebSearch plus AdSense as a move to anchor a larger percentage of searchers to Google, not as something that will provide a lot of value to current AdSense users. WebSearch plus AdSense
. | AdSense Preview Tool
And now for some wishful thinking:
What would be really cool is if Google monetized their GoogleAPI web services. If they embedded an Adsense data stream in the web services results and could provide more focused indexing for people using that service (just like they do with AdSense), this would be the killer app for the more technical users and would provide true local site search with an optional monetized exit.