Who Gave Google Permission to be the Judge and Jury of Mobile Content?

Big Picture Advertising pointed to an entry on the Google Blog that I must have missed first time around.

If you use your mobile to search for something with Google and then click through to that site, they’ll very helpfully repurpose the site, so that it’s mobile-friendly. Here’s the before and after screen shots.

This seems a neat idea and you wonder why Google haven’t made more of it somehow.

But then, think what they’re doing. They are taking a website and deciding what you should see. And that includes taking out advertising too.

For a publisher, or a content owner, this is pretty hard. For the most part, online publishing is all about selling ads round the content. Any publisher who needs to make money from his site (ie they are a business) has to sell those ads, or the site will disappear – it’s that simple. So by stripping these ads out, Google is effectively depriving publishers of income. You can’t argue (like Google News) that you’re sending traffic to sites by offering a taster of the content. They are simply taking traffic away from exposure to the publisher’s advertising.

Once you’ve crossed the moral boundary of stripping ads out, it’s not such a stretch to consider putting your own ads in. Indeed, Jason Calacanis already got upset with a company called Skweezer, for doing precisely that about a year ago. But for a small start-up to be doing it is one thing – revenue loss would be negligible – but for Google to go down this route, is potentially a huge issue.

Google has clearly made a decision to influence every publisher’s site on the mobile internet. Who asked them to do this? Shouldn’t we have a discussion? How do other publishers feel about it?

Contrary to popular belief, the mobile internet is already pretty big and growing daily. This is clearly something that needs to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.

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