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Is This A Promise Google Should Be Breaking?

Google rethinks banner ads in search results

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Brands may soon be getting even more love from Google as the company is reportedly testing big banner-style imagery on ads on brand-specific search results pages.

Do you think these visually-branded ads on search results pages would improve the search experience? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Synrgy shares what it looks like in a tweet:


Search Engine Land has confirmed with Google that the test is legit, but is only a small test in the U.S. There’s no telling if this will amount to an actual feature. Google conducts 20,000 of search experiments every year.

Google reportedly told Synrgy that the experiment was only happening with about 30 advertisers and showing for less than 5% of queries. They also learned that only the banner itself is an add, while all the sitelinks are just part of the organic results.

If it does become a wide-reaching feature, however, it obviously adds a tremendous amount of branding to the search results page. If it does expand to an available ad format, it will be interesting to see if it stays limited to brand-specific queries. As we’ve been seeing, Google has been giving brands some extra visibility even on generic queries.

In some cases, they’re recommending specific brands with the “see results about” feature when the users enters generic queries. Here’s an example showing a search for “travel insurance,” which suggests you search for the top advertiser on the page.

Travel insurance

But back to the banner-style ads in question. Google is taking some flack in the press for going back on a promise it made years ago. Google said this in 2005:

There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.

I think this probably qualifies as a graphical doodad on a search results page, so it would seem that “ever” was a bit of a stretch. That said, the above quote was made in context with a partnership between Google and AOL when they announced a global advertising deal. The statement was also made by Marissa Mayer, who is obviously now at Yahoo.

Google had invested $1 billion for a 5% stake in AOL, and expanded a strategic alliance to make more of AOL’s content available to Google users. The companies had first partnered three years before that. Google would continue to provide search technology to AOL, and the AOL Marketplace was created with white labeling of Google’s ad tech, enabling AOL to sell search ads directly to advertisers on AOL-owned properties. It also extended display ads throughout Google’s network and made AOL’s content “more accessible to Google web crawlers.”

You can see the full announcement here.

What Mayer was saying in the post, which was aimed to clear up “misconceptions” about the partnership was that the deal would not result in Google putting banner ads on its search results. And it didn’t.

But things have changed a lot with Google in the past eight years. Google doesn’t even have the same CEO anymore.

Still, she did say “ever.”

But again, it’s just a small test. Who knows if it will even become anything more?

In related news, Google added ad extensions as a ranking factor in Ad Rank, while also giving Ad Rank itself more weight.

Would you like to see Google push out these banner ads to a bigger group of advertisers? To all advertisers? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Is This A Promise Google Should Be Breaking?
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  • http://www.none.com Ethan

    Who says Google doesn’t give preferential treatment to big brands?

    What if a brand name is an exact match for a keyword? Will that brand just own the keyword? Will be reserved for big brands only to avoid that case? Repuation.com is a PR 7, are they a big enough brand for this?

  • Belinda

    As long as there are specific perimeters to follow, such as width and height constraints, static ads so they are not distracting, the number of banner ads is limited to three, and the ads are related to the search being done, I see nothing wrong with it. A few colorful, well-designed banner ads would make the page look better.

  • http://ontariojobswatcher.com Alex

    So people are looking for Southwest Airlines, and Google delivers a SERP full of pages from their site AND A BANNER of that company?? This means that, if the user clicks on the banner, the company just lost the money for that click, as the user was going to their site anyways, via organic results. Nice one!

  • http://www.netviperinteractive.com Dave Fogel

    How many more ads can they possibly put on a page?

  • http://www.brighternaming.com Athol Foden

    Looks to me that Google is slowly but surely selling out to the big guys who keep dangling big dollars in front of them to put big colorful ads where the eyeballs are. Not the first to say we take care of the little guys (on whose backs we grew up on) then compromising to grow even bigger and keep Wall St happy.

    • IMBack?

      “we take care of the little guys [webmasters] (on whose backs we grew up on)”

      That is it in a nutshell.

  • John

    Its simple enough, it sucks. Aren’t we already bombarded with enough ads almost every where we go? TV ads, Ads all over the streets, internet sites, magazines, Emails, etc… it has to stop already.

  • http://savealotshops.com savealotshops

    It appears that free serps will soon be a thing of the past !~!
    Google Search will soon be ALL Paid Ads ??
    They talk about SEO & Best User Experience, but then replace the
    content sites with ads. (Page 1, result #1, now puts me below the fold)

  • IMBack?

    I guess we are seeing G finally reaching the point I have always said it would. Adsense is dieing. People aren’t clicking Adwords ads as much. Google is giving precedence to brands. Now on that last point, lets remember what people love about the internet. Freedom, learning, choice, information, the list goes on. Google is just a board controlled mega entity just like any faceless megacorp. They are slowly chipping away at one of the main draws of the internet. Choice and freedom. So go ahead Google, make each SERP a TV commercial. Force people to the same big box stores they came online in the first place to avoid. Take away their choice to buy what they want where they want. To discover new things on their own terms. Take all that away, and the day that people type in that search and the choice is gone, so will Google’s reign at the top. Don’t doubt it. The mistake they have made is thinking that people will forgo the same reasons they came online in the first place. Nobody wants a polished TV-esque SERP where they get nothing but the same regurgitated crap they get every 10 minutes on TV from the same advertisers. Maybe Google will stay intact and own “this” internet. BUT maybe, just maybe … a new internet will be born. One that provides those same freedoms and excitement that Google is systematically doing away with.

    • IMBack?

      It takes the public a long time to catch on, but you know what? They ALWAYS do! And when it does, I will be there profiting off the new internet, while big G and its buddy corps are trying to figure out what went wrong. Someone needs to do a study which breaks down scientifically how Google actually ROBS you of choice when using its services.

  • http://jakefell.com Jake Fell

    @Dave Fogel
    Not enough it seems!

    Alot of big companies, organisations, governments break their promises. They’ll do anything to make an extra buck. Slightly different i know but I remember in the UK where the government promised not to raise university fees. You can guess what they did.

  • http://promiselanguage.blogspot.com Andrew B Brown

    A corporation CANNOT make a promise.

    An officer of the corporation makes a promise on behalf of the corporation.

    Who at Google is breaking the promise?

    Andrew

    For more info about a formalized language of “Promises” see Promise Language.

  • http://easyonlineclassifieds.com/ John Hogan

    Words are meaningless today for Big Corporate, Government, and even Religion today. Maybe it is past time to go back to those who have words they keep and words which hold integrity and value.

  • http://www.gbepackaging.com Bob Teal

    If your big enough you do not care how much advertising costs. Why if each ad pulled in the revenue of say a super bowl commercial that’s fine as the cost would be added on to the product and Google would make more money. People or consumers lose again. Do we want more commercials? I think not. But people accept them. Go Figure?

  • http://www.seventhman.com/ Shaleen Shah

    I think Google should stick to the simple, clutter-free interface that people loved about them in the first place. Besides, they have Google+ for brands to flaunt bigger images on their profile. Just my two cents..

  • http://www.emarketers.co.uk Steve Warren

    Hey, savealotshops, Google #1 below the fold? Wow.
    If that gets too common, then there will be no point in SEO. I can see the short term financial logic in this for Google (all Adwords), but they are surely setting themselves up for others to come in and steal their porridge (if it doesn’t migrate to Social Media anyway).
    Let’s hope for all our benefit (including Google’s) that they keep a sense of perspective about all this.

  • http://www.flaminghotmedia.com FHM

    This is another nail in the coffin for small business, and businesses that are just starting out. Basically if you do not have a large budget to compete against the giants who will take over these ads, then 90% of businesses will not be able to compete.
    I also wonder if businesses will start to look at other search engines and see what they provide? They met get a hell of a smaller chunk of traffic compared to Google, but if the playing field is fairer, then maybe they can afford to use Bing and Yahoo’s services more to their advantage.
    We all know what Google is upto, and why over the years certain services have been free, well now it time to pay up, now they have people solely relying on their products.
    There will only ever be one winner at this moment in time, and it isn’t the consumer.

  • Ralphie

    Google is Google what they offer is exactly what they say is low quality content.

    1- just adds above the fold
    2- duplicate content (no originality)
    3- Webspam
    4- Paid Links

    They are a library/phone book really nothing more, not even a well organized library of phone book yet they act as if they are immune to their own rules.

    “dont be evil” they say.. LOL

  • Marcie

    I think it will only drive more searchers to Yahoo. People are tired of not finding fresh content on page 1 as it is, this will only push the new websites farther down the list. As a consumer if I want BIG STORE.com I will search for its unforgettable name.

  • Immobiliare

    Just one more piece of search candy that I can ignore.

  • Bill

    I think it’s a great idea, it’ll give the people from the NSA shopping ideas for the Holidays. Less time to look at my emails.

    • John D

      If main stream media splashed NSA story all over the place then it is an attention diversion, it is jucy banksters snooping on us more. Their fiat currency empire is about to collapse, their immense wealth and corporate assets acquired through fake fiat currency will be nationalized.

  • http://www.AmericanInnovationsPropertiesPa.com Angie

    Definitely! Visuals always add to anything you want to add them to!!

  • http://www.go2obd.com/bdm-frame-with-adapters-for-fgtech-good-1001.html BDM FRAME

    For the past umpteen years, authorities have been ceaselessly running various campaigns during festive periods in an effort to bring down cases of road accidents and associated fatalities.