Google experiments with banner ads in SERPs
Google has been running banner ad tests in search result pages, which would take up a large majority of the screen if introduced.
Synrgy was the first to point out the use of banner ads within SERPs on Twitter, to which a Google spokesperson responded by saying that the company was performing a "brand image experiment" with around 30 advertisers including Virgin America and Southwest Airlines.
Some of the banner ads being tested result in only 12 percent of a window showing organic search results. Meanwhile, many of the ads are contained within a 'sponsored' box, which also includes the organic search results including site links for that particular brand.
Did Google previously promise no banner ads?
In a 2005 company blog post, Google stated: "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."
While the blog post was responding to a strategic alliance between Google and AOL-Time Warner, the statement above does appear to state that no banner ads would ever appear in SERPs.
Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, has said: "Google only appears to be testing banner ads for branded keywords, so it is likely that the majority of users will view ads related to the company website they were indeed looking for. However, those who do come across the SERPs with banners without looking for that particular company will be faced with a page that contains mostly ads."