Google Banner Ads Take Over Results Pages

November 6, 2013

Google is always striving to improve their flagship search engine. Well, improve its profitability, anyway. Ars Technica reports that “New Banner Ads Push Actual Google Results to Bottom 12% of the Screen.” These new adds do not unobtrusively hug the top of the page; for thirty companies lucky enough to be part of this “experiment,” their ads can dominate the results page. Reporter Casey Johnston reminds us this is a tactic Google pledged eight years ago never to employ. Have dollar signs have weakened the company’s resolve?

The article observes:

“The rollout of banner ads comes only days after Google’s most recent earnings call, where financial results showed that Google is struggling with falling mobile ad sales prices. As The New York Times reported, Google sells mobile ads for half to two-thirds as much as desktop ads, but the mobile ads are only a third to a quarter as effective. It bears mentioning that before scrolling, real search results on mobile don’t get much real estate, either.

Google will not publicly address any aspect of the banner ad experiment beyond saying that it is a ‘very limited, US-only test, in which advertisers can include an image as part of the search ads that show in response to certain branded queries.'”

It is worth noting that last bit—”. . . in response to certain branded queries.” In other words, if you search for “Southwest Airlines,” you might get a really big ad about Southwest Airlines. That’s much more reasonable than getting such advertising if you just searched for “airplanes” or “air travel.” (I would not put that evolution past them, though. Stay tuned.) Still, the tactic is bound to rub many searchers the wrong way. Johnston delves into specifics, augmenting her analysis with several screenshots. She concludes with a prediction—she will not be surprised if this experiment turns into a fixture. Neither will I.

Cynthia Murrell, November 06, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta