More On AOL Pushing Google Into Graphic Ads & AOL Promotion


AOL Coaxes Google to Try Busier Ads
from the New York Times dives deeper
into details that
emerged
earlier this week about how Google will help promote AOL as part of
the bid to retain the company as a Google partner, along with new graphical ads
that will be coming to Google search results pages near you.

Google is looking to promote AOL content within a
OneBox display area,
something familiar to many of our readers, as we’ve written of them in the past.
OneBoxes are where Google promotes other vertical search results that may be of
interest to searches, such as news listings or shopping results.

AOL isn’t being promised any exclusivity or guarantee to show up in these
areas, and including material from other companies isn’t even a radical
departure. Google stock result OneBoxes already pull from various providers, for
example. You can see how that works in a search for
goog and the resulting
detailed

page
.

Graphical ads appear to be in the works for Google’s search results pages,
though traditional banners might not show up except in Google Image Search and
Froogle shopping search. The Google home page would remain without graphics.
From earlier reports, it sounds like AOL will get some of graphical space to
help promote its own sites plus have the ability to resell graphical ads on
Google.

AOL is also getting SEO advice from Google. What?!!! Secrets on ranking
better? No, it sounds more like the SEO advice Google already gives other large
companies as part of the sales pitch and support to get them to buy ads. That’s
semi-controversial mainly with SEOs who feel the advice Google gives may
undercut their oftentimes more detailed and better advice, simply because it
comes with Google’s own seal of approval. It also does blur the church-and-state
divide a bit.

Overall, I’m sitting back until the deal is formally announced and people are
talking on the record about it. That’s likely to happen today. Then I’ll dive
back in and look more closely at what’s being offered and what lines, if any,
are being cross. In the meantime, some further reading and a semi-scorecard to
date.

1) OneBox inclusion of AOL content probably doesn’t harm Google’s reputation
for impartial results if AOL isn’t promised any particular placement or
exclusivity.

2) Graphical ads will definitely cause some purists — and maybe even some
ordinary Google users — to raise eyebrows and perhaps feel Google has sold out.
Expect that Google may likely make the display of these an option, on by default
but easy to switch off. That will help, but overall, graphical ads I’d say will
be seen as a sign that Google’s just like "all the other" search engines and
losing some of the magic some feel it has.

3) Google
Thinking Flash Ads?
covers what may have been some testing in preparation of
running graphic ads in search results.
Google
Offers Banners & Image Ads — But Not On Google Itself
from last year covers
the graphic ads that Google rolled out for contextual placement. At the time,
Google did say partners might also eventually show these in search results.
Whether these ads would come up on Google itself wasn’t addressed. I don’t think
Google has ever completely ruled out the idea of graphical ads, but they do seem
to conflict with part of its
corporate
philosophy
:

Google has also proven that advertising can be effective without being
flashy. Google does not accept pop-up advertising, which interferes with your
ability to see the content you’ve requested. We’ve found that text ads (AdWords)
that are relevant to the person reading them draw much higher clickthrough
rates than ads appearing randomly.

A CBS News

interview
last year did have Google’s director of technology eschewing
banners:

"The focus that Google has on our users, you know, a very slim homepage and
so forth — text ads, not banner," says Silverstein. "We do that because we
don’t want to go to sites with banner ads. We don’t like them."The focus that
Google has on our users, you know, a very slim homepage and so forth — text
ads, not banner," says Silverstein. "We do that because we don’t want to go to
sites with banner ads. We don’t like them."

Certainly the oft-cited person who diagnosed himself as having a heart attack
after doing a Google search might not be thrilled about graphical ads coming.
They slowed him down during his crisis and made Google a winner to him for not
having them. From what he

sent
Google:

On Monday morning, as I started my workday as a Web developer and designer,
I felt a pressure in my chest. Being 52 years old and somewhat familiar with
the early warning signs of a heart attack, I thought I’d go online and check
on the early signs of heart attack and stroke. My initial quest lead me to
‘Blah, Blah, Blah’" ? which is a different search site which I won’t mention
the name of ? "wherein I entered the search terms ‘heart attack symptoms’.

As I waited for the banner ads to download, and then the content, I became
more and more anxious. I turned to Google. I knew from prior experience that I
could expect the quickest search results possible, and I was not disappointed.
In less than a tenth of a second, the top listing led me to the American Heart
Association Web page. Their easy to understand graphics and descriptions lead
me to acknowledge my predicament, and I went to the local hospital where I
commenced to have a full-blown heart attack.

Thirty-six hours later, just prior to emergency, triple-bypass, open-heart
surgery, my doctor told me that had I had a stroke at any time while waiting
for the operation, the chances were great that I would not have survived. This
was a very sobering thought to me, my wife and our three sons, who thought
they may have seen the last of their dad. Simply put, had I putzed around
waiting for another website to display interminable graphics and banner ads, I
might not be here today. Instead, I wanted immediate results, got them from
Google, and for once did the right thing by going to the hospital."

I expect that if graphic ads do appear, you’ll see the Google philosophy page
be adjusted to structure graphic ads as being relevant in the right situation,
just as Google has changed that page in other ways to accommodate portal
features it has added.
Google’s
Philosophical Ten True Things Not So True Anymore?
and
Google’s
Philosophy: Then and Now
cover those adjustments more. But overall, I don’t
disagree with graphic ads as being useful. They can be, especially for those who
are seeking to build brand.

Chris Anderson had an interesting

post
recently on how he’s using AdWords not for clicks but to build
awareness. Big
Guys Crowd Out Little Guys in SEM Arena; Some Branding Focused Advertisers
Willing to Spend "Whatever" It Takes
,
Don’t Hate Search,
Search May Not Be
From Branding, But It Will Still Pull Branding Spend
, and
Search Ads Used
By More Than "New Breed" Advertisers
are just some past blog posts that
cover how brand owners are looking at search to boost their properties. They
aren’t necessarily crazy or irrational spenders, either.
C’mon In Brand
Owners, The Search Water’s Fine
explains this a bit more. But in short,
they’re looking for something other than direct conversions, are willing to
spend and it’s only natural that search engines will have to react to this
demand.

What we don’t want, however, is a repeat of the days such as when Yahoo was
partnered with Amazon. Old timers will recall how every search at Yahoo used to
bring up an Amazon box in the right hand column. It was ever present, annoying
and quickly ignored. If AOL is promoted this way — or if brand ads from others
aren’t targeted well — they’ll also become annoying and ignored.

4) The AOL deal will raise awareness of advice Google is directly giving to
some major advertisers, as I covered in my earlier

Google SEO Support Given To Advertisers
. While that still doesn’t appear to
be crossing the church-and-state divide, it is blurring the lines more,
something that Google may regret down the line unless it can provide more
support services to everyone.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit the

Google to Hold onto AOL
thread in our Search Engine Watch Forums.

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