While Google has always been very particular about differentiating ads from organic search results by placing ads only at the side of the search results page or in clearly marked slots at the top of the page, the Google Operating System blog recently found Google Mobile Search displaying short text ads in the middle of the search results page.
This move comes as something of a surprise to users familiar with Google’s advertising ethics, because during an interview in 2004, Google co-founders Sergey Brin had said, “One thing that’s important to us is the distinction between advertising and pure search results. We make it clear when something is paid for. Our advertising is off to the side and in a couple of slots across the top. Ads are clearly marked. There’s a clear large wall between the objective search results and the ads, which have commercial influence.”
Of course, in order to make sure that users can still differentiate between the ads and the organic search results, Google Mobile Search is using a different coloured background for the ads.
To be fair, the ads are not interspersed within the regular organic results. They are, instead, placed at the end of the plain text results on a universal search results page.
Mobile search advertising has still not found its groove. Google continues to test various ad placements to find the right solution. Google started by placing ads at the top or one at the top and one at the bottom of the mobile search results page. Recently, this changed and ads were placed only at the bottom of the Google Mobile Search results page.
Given the fact that the mobile screen is very small and there is really no place available to demarcate the page into a separate column at the side or at the top for displaying the ads, the only choices really are to place ads atop, below or in between organic results. Google already tested the first two options. They are now taking tentative steps towards the third option.
A really bold move, though, would be to intermingle sponsored links within the organic text-based results on the mobile search page. Will Google go back on its own word and implement such a system in order to get more money from mobile search?