Banner Ads For All – Or Not? Google’s New Rules

According to a recent article, Google is changing the rules about showing banner ads on branded search results.  In the past, Google banned banner ads, but the search engine giant is apparently allowing them now, perhaps in response to opinions that other search engines have more visually appealing results.  While it is not yet clear exactly where Google is going with this, there are some takeaways to be had so far from a casual sweep of these types of ads.

  1. New ads include image banner only.  Site links appear to be organic rather than text listings.  This means that image banners are not necessarily embedding links to drive up traffic.
  2. The “Sponsored” tag encompasses both the organic links and the banner ad.  It is confusing, but the links, while clearly organic, are encompassed by the “gray box” in Google’s format, making them appear to be part of one giant advertisement.
  3. Banner ads are clickable.  Users can click on the picture and are taken to the advertiser’s website.
  4. Banner ads appear on specific branded queries only.  This means that you will not be able to insert banner ads into generic search terms–at least, not for the time being.  Google is referring to the new banner ads as a “brand image experiment,” indicating that this may turn out to be a form of “boutique” advertising specifically designed to plump up a branded search query’s results.
  5. Banners result in a more visual and seamless brand experience.  While Google is not yet allowing banners to “compete,” the user’s experience with banner ads on branded searches gives great appeal to the SERP.
  6. Didn’t Google promise “no banner ads?”  It did.  In 2005, when Google was partnering with AOL, the giant promised no “crazy” flying ads or banners popping up on Google.  This new branded SERP is definitely a departure from that promise.
  7. There are currently 30 advertisers using banner ads.  It is unclear how these advertisers became involved, but they must have been approached by Google to try out this banner form of advertising.  No one is sure how they are paying for them at this point.  Currently, banner ads account for less than five percent of search queries.

It remains to be seen exactly how well the banner ads will catch on, or if there will be a shift to non-branded banner advertising on Google.