Way back in the year 2005, when Marissa Mayer (who is the CEO of Yahoo right now) was the VP of Search Products and User Experience at Google, she had written a blog post wherein she had emotionally declared that Google will never place any banner ad on their homepage:
It seems Google is abandoning this declaration and slowly turning evil.
It has been revealed that Google is planning to place huge banner advertisements on its homepage, for some specific branded queries.
For example, when one searches Southwest Airlines, here is the format of Google search result page which is being displayed:
Image credit: Search Engine Land
Hence, the Google search results which should actually display more of organic results and less of paid advertisements, will now show 80% paid advertisements and only 20% organic results.
The good thing is that Google is only targeting branded queries for this “full page advertisement” experiment.
Here is another such such search result, this time for “Virgin America”
Image source: SearchEngineLand.com
Earlier, the team at Synrgy had contacted few Google employees, and they unofficially stated that this “brand image experiment” is currently live with around 30 advertisers, which include Crate & Barrel ; Virgin America and Southwest Airlines.
Meanwhile, in a written response to Search Engine Land, Google has officially confirmed that, “We’re currently running 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. Advertisers have long been able to add informative visual elements to their search ads, with features like Media Ads, Product Listing Ads and Image Extensions.”
Over the years, Google search result page have undergone some tremendous changes. If we look at the search result from 2005, we can get an idea:
Image source: Arstechnica.com
As we can see, 80% of the screen is filled with organic results and the rest is dedicated to placement of advertisements. But over the years, Google has twisted and tweaked its design to accommodate more and more advertisement space and gradually decreasing the space for organic results.
This is the current search result page for “Samsung Galaxy S4”.
More than 80% of the screen space in the first fold of search results is filled with advertisements. Now, as if this ratio was not enough, brand searches would now completely fill up the screen.
80 to 90% of Google’s revenue comes from paid advertisements on its search results pages and content partner blogs and websites. Hence, it is pretty obvious that Google will want to highlight the advertisements more prominently in order to please the advertisers.
But this is not the case everytime. They are constantly evolving and incubating better and more informative results in the search pages. Some of those redesigns actually helped us to get the more relevant information right there in the first fold.
For example, the inclusion of Knowledge Graph results in 2012 or inclusion of rich snippets and special information right on the first fold, which they introduced last year:
The response to the recent banner related redesign to promote brands is not encouraging. Google shouldn’t ignore the users who have made them so popular in the first place.
Here are some related comments curated from various forums and Google official blogs:
It would be interesting to observe how Google responds to this reaction. Whether they are choosing the marketing dollars or love of their fans; it would be a major decision from Google.
What are your views regarding this new change from Google? Do you want it to change? Do share your views!