I just realised: Google is collecting data on browsing habits. It knows what you like; you tell it.
Chrome, Adsense, Adwords, Webmaster Tools mean it knows what sells. It probably stopped Checkout because it had enough purchasing data already and it didn’t need the money.
My latest minor epiphany was that millions of businessmen are using Adwords to get traffic. They are telling Google what they’re trying to sell, refining their keywords, seeing what works. Google is listening in. It’s lunacy!
They’re doing the slog and Google, by ‘helping’ them get clicks, lets them compete with each other, thereby putting up the price of those clicks, thereby increasing its profits. It shows you what keywords are popular; you, and everyone else.
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It’s getting a % of every sale, at one remove.
If ever Google decided to move in on a particular niche, it could easily dominate. And you can bet it’s giving commercial data to American security services.