There is a lot of buzz around the newest experiment that Google is running with ad placement, which could change the way the SERPs are displayed. Just this week Google began running banner ads for a select group of advertisers. These ads are currently only showing for fewer than 5% of all search queries, but this is something that could have major impacts on search engine marketing.
This new experiment comes as a surprise to everyone based on Google’s 2005 assurance: “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.” So, if Google does decide to flip flop their promises, what does this mean for advertisers and users?
Benefits for Advertisers
One word: BRANDING. Currently, the banner ads are only being displayed for branded terms such as “Southwest Airlines” so if these ads stick around this could be a huge branding feature for large companies. Google has always favored large brands, so this feature reiterates their movement to become a major branding tool for companies.
Another benefit that brands will definitely gain from banner Ads is the placement of their message on the SERPs. A huge issue that is plaguing companies online is reputation management and controlling negative reviews. Adding banner ads into the SERP mix will skew the real estate on the first page in favor of the brands. As you can see in the Southwest Airlines example above, the banner takes up a larger portion of real estate. Many organic listings will be pushed down the first page, or even to the second page. This can help hide or eliminate review sites and bad press. This is a huge win for large brands since controlling their messaging is a top priority.
The main benefit of these banner ads for users is the overall user experience it will provide. Google has been rolling out hundreds of experiments all based around the idea that users need visuals to have a better user experience on the SERPs. Allowing brands to put an image with their website result ensures that the user is finding the right company immediately. Since Google’s main goal currently is to provide the best user experience possible, this added feature makes perfect sense.
The undeniable impact of banner ads on search engine marketing is the constant move towards paid search results. Google is making it virtually impossible to NOT do paid advertising. This experiment, if it does eventually become a full feature, would reinforce its move towards having more and more paid results integrated on the first page. Organic listings are getting pushed farther and farther down to the point where companies have no choice but to use some type of paid ads to replace the traffic.
In the coming weeks this experiment is something we need to keep a close eye on, as it could be a game changer. But to put everyone’s anxiety at ease for the weekend, Google conducts over 20,000 experiments every year, so there is not a guarantee that this will be rolled out officially. Just another way Google keeps us all on our toes!