Saturday, November 14, 2009

Google Showing Graphic Ads on SERPs

Today I came across something I've been waiting to see for over 2 years... display ads on Google search engine results pages!

Check out the top 3 ads on the right rail for the query "Wireless Monitoring System"...

Google Image Ads
Here' s a closeup...

Google Image Ads CloseupThese new graphic ads look nearly identical to the shopping results, with image, product name, price, retailer name, and link.

I refreshed a couple times to see if the ads would rotate but they didn't (although the text sponsored listings below did). I did see the layout of the SERP change, though. Check this one out. You can barely tell the difference between the paid and unpaid listings...

Google Graphic Ads
To be sure, Google is not the first to do this. Ask Jeeves used to run "branded response" display ads in the early 2000's and Yahoo bowed "Rich Ads in Search" earlier this year.

Google has patiently waited it out though, seemingly afraid of alienating its users. But, over the past few months, Google has made a number of changes to blur the lines (quite literally) between organic and paid results.

A few key questions come to mind in regards to these new ad placements...

Was this announced somewhere or been going on for a while and I just missed it?

Are these just re-purposed shopping results?

Did the retailers specifically consent to this placement?

Does these run on the same auction as PPC text listings?

Are the images selected by the advertiser or Google?

Are the images pixeled for view-thru attribution?

Is this just a precursor to full-blown banner ads? (Get people first used to graphics on the right rail, then hit 'em up with real display ads.)

Are these ads only running for overt shopping-related queries?

I'll update this post with answers as I get them.

Update 11/30: OK, apparently these are Product Listing Ads - a new beta program that allows merchants to "serve highly targeted ads that include richer product information directly in the ad itself - including product image, price, and merchant name." Best of all, these placements are available solely on a CPA basis. So, the answers to my questions above are: Yes (but only 3 days prior), Yes (essentially), Yes (presumably), Unknown (but assuredly Google is rotating units based on effective yield), Advertiser, Unknown (but unlikely), and Yes.

2 comments:

Andrew Nattan said...

I sincerely hope it isn't a precursor to banner ads.

All this additional content on the SERPs seems to be taking Google away from what made it so attractive in the first place. Clean, reliable functionality. Now we're getting a cluttered SERP, covered in paid ads.

Is this a step too far?

Aaron Goldman said...

I think it's fine as long as the ads are relevant and non-intrusive.

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