End of an era: Banner ads coming to Google search results

Search giant rolls out test of new banner ad on top of results page for queries about advertiser

Google has rolled out a limited test of a new banner ad for Southwest Airlines that will display atop the results page for queries about that company, contradicting a long-standing pledge to never run such advertising.

The banner appears front-and-center on the result page for "southwest," just above a set of links to different parts of the airline's website. A small "sponsored" notation is visible at the upper-right of the ad, with a pop-up explanation that "based on your search query, we think you are trying to find a specific brand," and confirms that the brand is paying for this placement.

A Google representative confirmed that the company is testing new banner ads "that show in response to certain branded queries," noting that the rollout is a limited trial that will appear to U.S. users only.

"We're currently running a very limited, U.S.-only test, in which advertisers can include an image as part of the search ads that show in response to certain branded queries," said a Google spokesman in an email.

Since 2005, the trend has been away from the plain blue-on-white list of links and towards the integration of more image-heavy advertising on the company's search result pages. The Google rep cited image extensions, product listing ads, and media ads as examples.

The spokesman did not say why Google appears to have has changed its stance on running banner ads on the search results page made back in 2005. Marissa Mayer, who was then Google's vice-president of search products, wrote in an official blog post that "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."

CPC down for Google
Google, not Facebook, will lead the brand affinity race

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said it's easy to figure out the reason for Google's apparent change of mind -- money.

"I have to think that this is all about money, and getting more of it from advertisers," he added. "My gut reaction? I don't like it. If the banner advertiser isn't what you're looking for, then you have to scroll down the page to see other results. Call me old fashioned, but I like my search results quick and clean."

Olds suspects a lot of other Google users will feel the same way. Many will likely be irritated by the sudden appearance of banner ads above their Google search results.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, called the move as a "big departure" for Google. Unlike Olds, though, he doesn't expect much pushback from Google users.

"They are matching the banners with the content, and one could argue that this YouTube generation we're living in is a much more visual world," said Kerravala. "Maybe some hard core people who like the 'no banner' policy will be upset, but I think in general, if the content matches the search query, then I would think it's informative to the audience."

Google's advertising business has continued to grow over the past year, booking multi-billion-dollar increases in each of the last four quarters. Google's latest quarterly report says that advertising accounted for $13 billion in revenues over just three months.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

Great content and well explained. Everything you need to know about Digital Design, this article has got you covered. You may also check ...

Ryota Miyagi

Why the art of human-centred design has become a vital CX tool

Read more

Interested in virtual events? If you are looking for an amazing virtual booth, this is definitely worth checking https://virtualbooth.ad...

Cecille Pabon

Report: Covid effect sees digital events on the rise long-term

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. It’s really impressive.Click Here & Create Status and share with family

Sanwataram

Predictions: 14 digital marketing predictions for 2021

Read more

Nice!https://www.live-radio-onli...

OmiljeniRadio RadioStanice Uzi

Google+ and Blogger cozy up with new comment system

Read more

Awesome and well written article. The examples and elements are good and valuable for all brand identity designs. Speaking of awesome, ch...

Ryota Miyagi

Why customer trust is more vital to brand survival than it's ever been

Read more

Blog Posts

A Brand for social justice

In 2020, brands did something they’d never done before: They spoke up about race.

Dipanjan Chatterjee and Xiaofeng Wang

VP and principal analyst and senior analyst, Forrester

Determining our Humanity

‘Business as unusual’ is a term my organisation has adopted to describe the professional aftermath of COVID-19 and the rest of the tragic events this year. Social distancing, perspex screens at counters and masks in all manner of situations have introduced us to a world we were never familiar with. But, as we keep being reminded, this is the new normal. This is the world we created. Yet we also have the opportunity to create something else.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Should your business go back to the future?

In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards the familiar. How can businesses capitalise on this to overcome the recessionary conditions brought on by COVID? Craig Flanders explains.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

Sign in