Google is entering the age of transparency and has “disclosed” it’s revenue share with publishers. They have self-reported that their revenue share on search is 51% to the publisher and 49% to Google. The revenue share for the AdSense content network is purportedly 68% to the publisher and 32% to Google.
Read about it here straight from the horse’s mouth.
What I find interesting about this is that these figures are presented in aggregate worldwide. They are not in the AdSense contract. So while a publisher may “feel” good about knowing this global revenue share, bear in mind that the very large Google partner publishers like AOL, MySpace, etc… are obviously skewing the average. They are getting a much better deal than this and the smaller publishers are getting a much worse deal in order for the averages to work out. True transparency would put the terms in the AdSense contract.
It seems Google has created it’s own conflict of interest in that search customers will logically have the potential to be “favored” by the Google algorithm if they are optimizing for Google profit (higher revenue to Google, lower payouts to publishers).
Of course there is also no mention of how revenue generated on Google.com, YouTube, and the various other properties Google owns is factored into this equation.
The reality is their financial statements tell a different story. They tell one of a company continuing to lower it’s cost of revenue (even if you assume ALL of this line item goes to partners, which is a stretch, it’s still declining). See summary below ($’s in 000’s).