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Google insists that it hasn't made up its mind yet about this "small experiment"

Twitter users began buzzing yesterday about something strange they had encountered.  They had gone to search on the world's most used search engine -- Google Inc. (GOOG) -- only to be greeted with glaring visual banner ads.  

A Google spokesperson confirmed to Search Engine Land later in the day that the company was testing "a small experiment", pushing out large banner ads that filled up most of the initial screen real estate, when users completed a search.  Search Engine Land speculates that Google is pushing the ads in response to very specific searches (e.g. the name of a company or product) and is testing the click-through response to try to decide whether they're worth broadly rolling out.  The ads are reportedly reaching about 5 percent of users who search on a selected terms from the 30 brands who have partnered with Google in the trial.

Partner brands include Southwest Airlines Comp. (LUV) (see below), Otto GmbH subsidiary Crate & Barrel, and Virgin Group Ltd.'s subsidiary Virgin America.

The ads don't resort to some of the most extreme advertising tactics (e.g. popups upon mouse-over), but they are a jarring site amidst Google's traditionally minimalist search page.  While Google's chief U.S. search rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) (whose mined data also powers Yahoo! Inc.'s (YHOO) search engine) has gone all out with a search results page layout rich in media, Google typically only shows text, which a majority of users seem to prefer (as it makes for faster filtering of undesirable hits).
Former Google VP Marissa Mayer -- now Yahoo! Inc.'s CEO -- wrote 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.

Now users are calling new CEO Larry Page (who replaced Eric Schmidt last year) and Google in general for breaking its promise almost a decade later:

Broken promises

Google is enjoying record profits, but having seen its stock recently cross the $1,000 USD/share threshold it is eyeing more aggressive advertising tactics to try leverage its dominant market share in the mobile, email, and search markets.  It already recently stirred up controversy by stuffing Gmail users' inboxes with fake advertising emails designed to look like normal messages, a change which it rolled out to Android, albeit in slightly less offensive form (by pushing the messages to a special "promotional" folder).

Larry Page
Google's new CEO Larry Page seems more concerned about profits than his predecessors promises, which is pleasing to shareholders but could hurt Google's image. [Image Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Now Google has yet another controversy on its hands.  The real question, though, is whether these banner ads -- potentially a lucrative moneymaker -- are a dealbreaker for users of Google Search.  If the public will put up with them, Google appears intent on pushing the envelope, so don't be surprised to see this "experiment" evolve into a full fledged marketing strategy.

Sources: SynrgyHQ on Twitter, Google [2005 promise], Search Engine Land

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RE: Bing?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2013 7:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
No one is saying Google is evil here.

That's a straight up lie. People have said that, quite often. Not on this particular discussion, granted.

That is not whining, that is simply pointing out facts.

It is whining, sorry. The tone is quite childish.

What people don't want is for the ads to detract from the reason they use Google, the search results.

In the one example we're given, which isn't even a final version as we have NO idea what that will look like, the banner enhances the search immeasurably. That's why I do NOT understand all the whining.

Instead of searching for Southwest, clicking to their site, then muddling around for the link I want, Google has put nearly every relevant link right there on the search page. How much more convenient can you get! And the banner is 100% relevant to my search!

That's why, again, I DO NOT understand all this negativity!

RE: Bing?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2013 7:19:56 AM , Rating: 2
To expand, people are saying they don't want a large portion of the page taken up by extremely relevant and convenient banners apparently. Okay fine.

However in my experience most of the page is wasted space anyway. Usually the result I want is on the upper third of the links. Rarely do I need to scroll further to find what I want, and I almost NEVER have to go beyond the first page of results.

I'm sure Google has internal data that backs this up as well.

I see this as a win-win. My search experience is enhanced, so what do I care if they make money?

And if banners are the problem, and Adblock wont deal with this as some people are suggesting, you can just set your browser to show no graphics at all while on

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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