There was an interesting email message distributed via Interesting People today that accuses Google of socially engineering the Web. The gist of it is that a site that had purchased AdWords was suspended from the system because it opened a popup window when users clicked on the AdWords link. The writer of the email is eager to accuse Google of being nefarious whereas I see this as a pretty clear effort by Google to preserve the value of its assets in a perfectly reasonable way.

The most obvious point is that Google suspended this site from AdWords, not from the index. Google indexes everything it can find. As has been widely reported, Google’s AdWords seem to be much more effective than banner ads in actually getting users to click through. If people who click through on these ads are bombarded with popups and other interrupt-driven advertising, they’ll be quickly trained to ignore AdWords the same way they do just about every other form of advertising on the Web. By insuring that the purchases of AdWords adhere to certain standards of common sense and good taste, Google maintains the value of the AdWords system. That just makes good business sense to me, and as a user who sometimes does click through on those ads, I appreciate it.