Is This A Promise Google Should Be Breaking?

Chris CrumSearchNews

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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.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.