Google's recent end-of-year 2019 financial report was a stunner: it included new financial details, but it removed several more.
For the first time, the revenues for YouTube and the cloud IT business were disclosed, but without any cost of operations, and Google removed key metrics that have been included for more than 15 years: How much money it makes per click (Cost-per-Click (CPC)) and the growth of paid clicks.
These monetization metrics are typically found on the second page of every quarterly earnings release from Google -- which underscores their importance in a 10-page document. Yet they are missing from the latest Google 2019 Q4 report with no explanation.
"Advertisers pay Google each time a visitor clicks on an advertisement. A click may be worth anywhere from a few cents to over $50 for highly competitive search terms."
Clicks are at the heart of Google's business, so why are these metrics no longer viable? And why hasn't this change been noticed widely? Why didn't the Wall Street analysts ask about these missing numbers in the financial call the same day as the report was released?
What is Google hiding?
The seemingly unstoppable revenue per click decline is the most concerning. Look at these past 19 quarters, but it's been going on for far longer.
Google has a rapidly deflating advertising product, sometimes 29% less revenue per click, every quarter, year-on-year, year after year.
Take a look at this chart: As long as Google can keep growing the blue line -- growth of paid clicks faster than the red line its ad click deflation -- then it is golden.
Every three months Google has to find faster ways of expanding the total number of paid clicks by as much as 66%. How is this a sustainable business model?
There is an upper limit to how much more expansion in paid links can be found especially with the shift to mobile platforms and the constraints of the display.
And what does this say about the effectiveness of Google's ads? They aren't very good and their value is declining at an astounding and unstoppable pace.
To survive, Google must find ways of showing even more ads. This is the future with Google -- more ads in more places. Or rather, more ineffective ads in more places. This is an unsustainable business model.