Oct 24, 2020 | Updated: 09:48 PM EDT

Are banner ads coming to the Google homepage?

Oct 24, 2013 11:46 PM EDT


Well that didn’t take very long. As Google’s ad revenue continues to drop, the company is wasting no time going back on a promise it made to users back in 2005: no banner ads on the web search results page.

While the news might come as a surprise to some Google supporters, particularly given the company’s credo of “Don’t be evil,” the search giant has already confirmed its plans to several media outlets including The Guardian and AFP.

"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," a Google spokesman said in an emailed press statement.

Translation: the big banner ads that splash across your screen and take up half a browser window are coming to Google. This is rather unfortunate in light of the company’s December 2005 pledge promising exactly the opposite. Incidentally, Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer made that promise during her tenure as Google’s head of search and user experience.

"There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage of Web search results pages," Mayer said in a blog post that remained available online Wednesday. "There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever."

If you’re wondering what the big deal is, Google’s move goes against much of what helped the search engine succeed in the first place. When it first debuted, one of its biggest points of differentiation against competitors like AltaVista and Lycos was its clean, uncluttered interface. Sergey Brin and Larry Page famously declined a $3 million offer from Visa to display an advertisement on its homepage, and this was before Google was even profitable.

Though the climate is arguably different for Google now—AdWords accounts for over 75% of its revenue—it’s still difficult to reconcile the move against the company’s previous public statements. So far, it’s unclear if and when the banner ads will exit the testing phase and become a proper Google product, but in the meantime, we can hold out hope that rational minds will prevail.

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