As many of our readers know, Medgadget has been in existence since 2004. That’s fourteen years dedicated to bringing you the latest medical technology news, FDA approvals, exclusive interviews, product reviews, reports from conferences, and special contests such as our Medical Sci-Fi competition. We are a group of MDs, biomed engineers, and medical students interested in medical technologies. We believe that by reporting real medtech news we deliver something special to the world. We educate clinicians on possibilities of new technologies. We give hope to patients about progress in medicine. We are a trusted and proud independent publication.
We believe in hard work, and we believe that hard work has to result in at least a modicum of financial success. And yet, after 14 years of online publishing, Medgadget is struggling to survive.
How can it be? After all, we approach everything with integrity. We don’t outsource our work to strangers on the internet. We don’t bombard readers with intrusive ads, we don’t do “top ten” lists or spam posts. We don’t believe in a free ride: our writers and editors are paid for their stories. Our editorial team has always been composed of top notch talent from some of the most elite schools in the world: Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medical School, MIT, University of Toronto, Harvard Business School, Leiden University Medical Center, to name a few. Some of our alumni founded very successful startups in medtech, such as OssoVR, Osmosis, and Omada Health. We have had alumni do space medicine at NASA. We proudly display our journalistic ethics and have a business person who deals with customers and makes sure that there’s not even a hint of conflict of interest between the editorial process and advertisers. Medgadget has been named by Fox News and others as the best medical blog in the world. Big medical technology companies know us and keep in touch with us about their R&D, new product launches, and they readily give us interview access: companies like Johnson & Johnson, 3M, GE Healthcare, Samsung, and Phillips.
But when it comes to publishing, how is it possible that the hard work, integrity, professionalism, clinical knowledge and love of what we are doing produce such meager results? Please enter the digital world of serfdom created by Google. Medgadget is a serf in that kingdom, and so are you, and so is our entire society.
Below we will document for you the different domains that Google has monopolized and successfully exploited at the expense of publishers and their readers. Google has not only appropriated the entire Internet to its aims, not only it is destroying small publications like ours, Google is destroying what the Internet stands for: creative freedom and decentralized sharing of information. Google has become an evil company.
In the advertisement domain, GoogleFacebook is essentially a duopoly. While publishers produce all the content, GoogleFacebook control more than 70% of the digital ad market in the United States. That’s two companies that produce no content! Google’s revenue “climbed to an all-time high of $32 billion” in 2017, reports the Washington Post, which is more than the revenue of the entire U.S. newspaper publishing industry, and yet Google creates almost no content! Where does it advertise? It advertises on top of its search results (duping people because many think it is a search result), on YouTube, on games on your smartphone, and on its AdSense partners like Medgadget. How much does it pay us? It pays us pennies, literally pennies.
Here’s how it works. Because Google follows you through little pieces of code called cookies, Google knows everything about you. Google knows your searches and websites you visit. Google follows you from your work, to the restaurant, to your bedroom. It probably knows your sexual orientation and who your friends are. It knows your tastes, your health problems, your political affiliations, where you’ve been and how you traveled there. Its tracking cookies are so pervasive, and it invades your privacy so thoroughly, that it can display an ad for you on any of its platforms, on any web page, on any Android game. It does not need Medgadget or The Wall Street Journal. For Google, Medgadget is just another space for an advertisement. Medgadget literally competes with cellphone games for advertisement income. For Google, we are no different than your Candy Crush Saga game, or some spam site, or a YouTube video of a teenage prankster. In the world of Google, everything boils down to the lowest common denominator to display an ad, quality information or hard work be damned! And since Google and Facebook control the advertising market, there’s almost nowhere else for us to go.
Despite its claim that it exists to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Google actually exists to display an ad to you. And Google does everything in its power to show you more and more ads on more and more channels. If Google cared about the information on the internet, all the reputable publishers would get quality ads, and Candy Crush Saga and teenage pranksters would get the same cheap ads that porn sites get. That’s how things are supposed to be, but they are not, and everyone among publishers suffers. Everyone. All because Google channels ads to itself and its garbage content. And, actually, you, our readers, are suffering as well, as pay walls are rising and regional newspapers and niche sites like ours are disappearing. Your choices for quality content are disappearing. You don’t even know what sites have never even been born that could have entertained and educated you and your children. Furthermore, an ominous sign of our times is that venture capital investment in publishing is essentially non-existent. No one wants to invest in publishers. There are no startups in publishing. Think about it: isn’t the internet supposed to be about information gathering?
We simply can’t compete with low quality material in which Google makes its billions of dollars and makes the populace dumb in return. Google cares more about the teenage prankster with 1.5M views than about a Medgadget article seen by 1,000 cardiologists. Speaking of dumbing down the population, you’ve heard about the fake news? Follow the money trail. All these fake news come as a direct result of GoogleFacebook incentives. Who needs to pay to travel to a medical conference, write a report or do a product review, like Medgadget does day in and day out, if you can publish a fake news story and get paid the same or even more? Maybe Google needs to explain to its shareholders and advertisers, and to us, why it stopped ads on Medgadget’s YouTube channel because we don’t generate enough of “required 4000 minutes of views in 12 months period,” but it continues to pour advertisements into filthy, misogynistic, sadistic channels like this and this and this.
Maybe Epson or 20th Century Fox, the distributor of the Red Sparrow movie, need to explain their choices for advertisement placements with those who profit from misogyny? How about Abbott outsourcing its Similac ads to Google and supporting the sexual objectification of women in an aptly named game called “Virtual Lover”? We can’t compete with stuff like this, folks. Remember, these YouTube channels and games are just a tip of the iceberg in the Google billion dollar money making machine that left Medgadget and our readers as road kill, and was replaced by filth, degeneracy, misogyny, sadism, sexism, and racism. That’s right, decent website like ours get squashed, and the lowest common denominator spam flourishes. And the result is the lowest common denominator in content and news for the lowest common denominator of our society. That’s not where we are headed, folks, this Orwellian society is already here.
On the internet, Google is the ultimate self proclaimed Lord of the Manor. Nothing happens on the internet without the Big Brother Google. No process, no website is designed without efforts to appease Google. There is a billion dollar industry out there called SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that tries to figure out how to best please Google. Everything from the speed of a server, to website structure, to the way to display images, to where to put a piece of code is dictated by Google. There are hundreds, even thousands, of edicts that Google proclaims that have to be followed. Google says that it enforces the highest standards on the internet, but nothing could be further from the truth. The standards would evolve through competition, like in every other industry. By creating these “standards” and strangling its competitors, Google is only interested in enlarging a moat around its own castle. One wonders how much innovation in internet technologies has been killed, or have never even been born, as a result of Google’s hegemony. For more on this, see a recent New York Times report, The Case Against Google.
Speaking of SEO, despondent at our inability to make ends meet, we hired a consultancy a while back to look at the structural problems with the website. They found no major problems. According to them, (and this is a direct quote from their report) Medgadget experienced “decline in visibility that started with the Panda Update in 2011. (“Google Panda is a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm that was first released in February 2011. The change aimed to lower the rank of “low-quality sites” or “thin sites”, in particular “content farms”, and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.“)”
You see, somehow we are a “thin site”. In other words, a team of 20-year olds in Menlo Park (or an algorithm designed to accommodate the lowest common denominator), downgraded us because we mentioned Viagra, colonoscopy, or something else medically related, for crying out loud.
The Viagra misunderstanding is an easy explanation, but one can come up with more sinister motives. What if Google unleashed Panda to squash Medgadget and others like us, plus some content farms, to capture consumers and the digital ad market to itself? After all, YouTube is a pretty thin site, if you ask us. And so is Google Groups, and Blogger, and all the Android games (except for Scrabble). That’s just a theory, but it can smell pretty delicious to some hungry anti-trust regulator with a bamboo stick and a panda appetite.
But for now there’s nothing, NOTHING, we can do about it and no one to complain to. Google, The Lord of the Internet Manor, decides our fate, silently in Menlo Park. No matter our exclusives, no matter the reports, no matter the product reviews, no matter our clinical expertise, no matter our MDs and PhDs, no matter the hard work, no matter our families, no matter the love, no matter the public service. That’s serfdom, folks.
Google, through its monopoly and its strong-arm tactics, is butchering the internet of its spirit and its content, and it is now the most pernicious corporation of all the big techs. One is not forced to use Facebook or Amazon or Apple, but you can’t escape the iron grip of Google on the Internet.
Through its control of the digital ad market, Google channels advertising revenue to itself, and leaves crumbs to the content creators.
Through its blatant invasion of privacy and through its control of Android, YouTube, Chrome, AMP, and other technologies, Google is destroying the quality of content on the internet and leaves en masse corpses of publishers, from small regional news outlets to niche sites to big publishers.
Through its search dominance, Google strangles the future of the internet and internet technologies. Google may have violated anti-trust laws.
Google is an evil monopoly.
We ask you, our readers, to ring alarm bells. Demand privacy! Tell your relatives, tell your friends, tell your representatives and senators about Google. Educate yourself about Google. There’s a reason Google has the most financed cadre of lobbyists in Washington. Google bosses know full well about the company’s devious ways, and they keep lobbyists busy to protect the company’s stranglehold on the entire internet. Google did not create the internet, and it’s time to take the internet back from Google. It’s time to demand that no corporation, no matter how cuddly its logo looks, is allowed to blatantly invade our privacy. Without its snooping, without its cookies, Google’s power to manipulate the market will be reduced and the quality of your internet will improve. Maybe it’s time to break Google into pieces, and allow newcomers to flourish. But that’s a job for policy makers.
Also, demand that companies that advertise on Google know where their ads are going. It’s their money and their reputation that is on the line. And ask advertisers if they are happy with the destruction of civility that Google peddles. We cannot let Google build a future for our children.
As for us, we will keep on doing our best, as we have done in the past 14 years, and hope that we can continue to deliver the quality medical technology content as long as we can.
Thank you for being our readers,
Your Medgadget Team
Link: About us…
Update (3/2/2018): Google refuses to comment after our attempts to contact the company. Abbott, Epson, and 20th Century Fox refused to comment as well…
Update (3/3/2018): Abbott responds: “The ad placement you reference runs contrary to our standards, and we have since corrected it.”