Is Google’s unstoppable advertising machine finally running out of steam?

hen Larry Page and Sergey Brin were first developing their idea for a “hypertextual web search engine”, the two Stanford PhD students appeared dead-set against filling it with adverts. “We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers,” Page and Brin wrote in the 1998 paper that introduced Google. “Furthermore, advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.” It didn’t take long for them to change their minds. Two years later in 2000 the fledgling search engine began offering advertisers a way to bid against certain search results, a technology it called AdWords.

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