Posts

sports-authority-google-brand-banner-ad

You may remember the uproar from last October, when Google began experimenting with huge banner ads that ran across the top of branded search results. Many hailed them as the first sign of a completely branded search engine, while others weren’t as bothered by the large graphics appearing strictly on branded searches.

Either way, you shouldn’t expect to see the ads any longer. During a SMX West keynote discussion with Danny Sullivan, Google’s Armit Singhal declared the test to be over while saying that the test had failed.

Ginny Marvin suggests the test ads weren’t getting high enough click-through rates (CTR) to justify expanding or keeping around, but even Marvin admits CTR would be an odd metric to measure the success of the ads considering they acted more as a graphic introduction to brands you were searching for and didn’t include call-to-actions.

The test was very small in comparison to most Google tests, with only about 30 advertisers participating. Their banners were only shown on about 5 percent of search queries. Maybe Singhal or someone else from Google will explain how the tests were failures, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Most likely, the tests will just be forgotten like many other failed Google experiments.

However, if you missed the chance to catch some of these ads when they were appearing, or you are simply nostalgic for some nice branded banners, Marketing Land put together a slide show with many of the banners when they were still active, which you can view below.

You may remember that Google recently started testing large banner ads on branded searches. It raised quite a stir in the online community, mostly because it seemed that Google blatantly broke an older promise to never show banner ads. But, Bing is taking branded search result ads to the next level.

Larry Kim reports that last week, at the Bing Ads Next conference, Bing Ads announced their new ad format for exact match keyword searches, specifically those done within the latest Windows 8 update. Instead of a relatively small banner ad, Bing Ads are rolling out Bing Hero Ads, a full landing-page like layout that aggressively promotes the exact brand.

Just as with Google’s banner ads, Bing Hero Ads are only starting with a small number of prominent brand advertisers, such as Disney, Home Depot, Land Rover, and Volkswagen. It will also be a while before you can expect to see Hero Ads on your average search. For the moment, they are only appearing in a small selection of searches done in Windows 8.1 within the US.

It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to these types of branded semi-landing pages. Google’s banner ads looked fairly customized for each brand, , and only take up a relatively small amount of on-page real estate. A full-page ad experience for exact match branded searches may be welcomed as a quick and efficient way to connect with the brand searchers are looking for. It is also possible that consumers will be turned off by the seemingly uniform ad experience.

The one clear advantage Bing’s Hero Ads have over Google’s banner ads is their ability to deep link directly to a larger amount of pages on a site. They offer links such as “contact us”, “find a store” and “request a quote” which speed up users experiences and allow them to convert more quickly.

Last week some people began noticing that large banner ads were appearing on Google for a select few branded search results. This test of huge banner ads has caused quite a bit of a stir across the internet, especially because it seems to break a promise Google made all the way back in 2005.

When Google partnered with AOL eight years ago, Marissa Mayer, then Google VP of search products and user experience, issued a promise that users would never see banner ads on their results. She said:

“There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search result pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping all over the Google site. Ever.”

One could argue that some of the Google Doodle homepage logos commemorating special events would qualify as “crazy, flashy, graphical doodads”, those have never caused any worry because they are simply a flourish added to the homepage logo. However, it is indisputable that the new ad tests Google is running breaks their “no banner ads” promise outright. But, is it a bad thing?

The most notable aspect of the banner ads is that they only appear for branded searches. That means, if you search for Crate & Barrel, you might be shown the banner for Crate & Barrel. You won’t, however, be seeing any ads for random companies unrelated to your search, as you would normally associate with the term ‘banner ad’.

These ads are also linked to the brand’s website, providing users with an obvious, visually pleasing way to immediately find the business they are looking for. With careful moderation of banners, they could potentially allow businesses to essentially own their branded searches.

One of the biggest concerns for consumers regarding these ads is how they are used. Few users will be upset for the easily identifiable link with an aesthetically pleasing image showing when they search for a specific brand. However, if this test expands and advertisers are ever allowed to use these banners to advertise sales or other more advertising-styled banners, there may be a backlash.

Currently, it is estimated that 30 advertisers are currently being involved in the test, including Southwest Airlines, Virgin America, and Crate & Barrel. The test banner ads are also only being shown for 5 percent or less of search queries, so it is entirely possible you won’t run into one for quite a while.

Search Engine Land has created a FAQ for advertisers curious how this might affect the future of Google marketing, and Google released a statement on Friday, which read:

“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.”