Google shuts down its controversial banner ad experiment

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Above: Google headquarters.

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After rolling out banner ads in Search, Google’s Search head claims the company has canceled the test.

Google Search head Amit Singhal announced yesterday at Search Marketing Expo West (SMX West) in San Jose, Calif., that the firm would no longer display its controversial banner ads in search results, Marketing Land reports. SMX West is a SEO and social media marketing-themed conference sponsored by Google.

That banner ad program first debuted in October of last year, and it led to public outcry, as Google had previously promised to never include banner ads in its search results. When the ads first appeared, Google called them a “brand image experiment” and shared that it was testing them with 30 different companies.

It’s noteworthy, however, that these banner ads [below] don’t look like typical banner ads. In fact, some have argued that these display ads shouldn’t be considered banner ads at all.


VentureBeat can confirm that banner ads for original partner companies, like SouthWest Airlines, are no longer visible in our own tests — of course, there’s still a chance that these ads are currently displayed elsewhere for other users.

This announcements comes amid a number of changes to Google’s search results, including visual tweaks such as the removal of underlines, and larger type.

Update 3:21 PM ET: Google confirms the news, and tells VentureBeat that these display ads are no longer in use.

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