On July 1, search giant Google will start collecting a fee for a service it once offered for free.
The changes, in this instance, affect Internet marketing and advertising companies that rely on data from AdWords, Googles do-it-yourself advertising feature.
Googles move though raises a broader question about whether the firm will make similar changes affecting developer access it allows to other features.
Theres plenty of motivation to do so. For one, Googles been under pressure to come up with new revenue sources to prepare for a predicted slowdown in the growth in Internet search ads, now its main source of income.
But the backlash may be great, as evidenced by the negative initial reaction many developers are having to the new AdWords fee.
In the short term, the changes Google plans to make impact just a sliver of the community thats grown up around it. It impacts people like Jeremy Chatfield, CEO of Merjis, based in Bedford, U.K.
Chatfield must now pay 25 cents for every 1,000 requests his advertising programs make off AdWords. This kind of access used to be free, but Google also capped the number of data requests.
AdWords lets marketers bid on keywords that will appear on search results pages. Its one of two Google advertising facets. The other is Googles AdSense, which lets marketers advertise on Web sites relevant to their ads.
In an e-mail to eWEEK, Chatfield writes of tentative plans to raise, by about 1 percent, the fees his firm collects in order to cover the added costs.
"Im not happy with the fees," Chatfield wrote. "The 1 percent is not desirable, but survivable."
He adds the problems will be multiplied at smaller ad firms that for business purposes arent going to raise fees.
At the same time, the sentiment about the changes is also partly positive.
By removing the cap on the number of AdWords interactions, Googles leveling the playing field in a way. Under the old setup, small firms couldnt afford to grow beyond the free number of contacts.
But now they can, and at a cost that executives sounding off in online forums said they can handle.
"It gives us equal access … that is afforded to big clients," wrote someone identifying themselves as Jon Tara in comments about the fees at this forum.