The world’s biggest brands could soon find themselves paying more for Google traffic to their site, but they’ll enjoy less competition as a result. That’s the verdict from HitSearch as news emerges that the search engine is trialling massive banner ads for branded search queries.
Paid listings will dominate the front page of results, above the fold, complete with a large branded image and a choice of links through to the site. For brands, this means capturing as much search traffic as possible, and protecting their brand terms. But interestingly, it also means they’ll be paying a premium for traffic which they would have captured plenty of through organic listings.
If Google accelerates the click through rate (CTR) of paid links by making ads more imposing, they’ll generate much more revenue, but there are clear benefits to the brands which could justify the cost.
David Cobourne, online marketing expert at HitSearch, explains: "On the surface this is a very positive step for brand protection. But as a result of the introduction of large banner ads, we will also likely see a reduction in organic traffic for brands.
"Many brands already rank highest for their brand terms, but with the majority of visitors being swept up by the new paid search channels, these organic listings are likely to take a hit. If the trial of these ads proves successful, they could be a very clever way for Google to increase paid traffic whilst offering improved brand protection in return".
A spokesperson for Google confirmed that trials were a small experiment, only running in the United States.
But the announcement has lead many commentators to refer to a much earlier announcement from the company. One in which they promised to never use banner ads in web search.
In 2005, they announced via their official blog: "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."
Will Google break their promise? More importantly, who will benefit more from them doing so: the brand, or the search engine?