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That's TWO Ads On Google's Homepage

By - January 06, 2010

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I remember the time when Sergey and Larry swore they’d never have ads on the homepage of Google. Last month I noted a big one for Chrome. Today there’s an additional one. Now that’s TWO ads! Google has its own products to market now, and it’s using it’s biggest firehose of attention to tell folks about them. Both are major new fronts in very large wars: Mobile and OS/Browser.    

How do you think this will effect its core brand?


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34 thoughts on “That's TWO Ads On Google's Homepage

  1. Joe Koufman says:

    Next thing you know, it will look like a NASCAR! :-]

  2. Rooney says:

    I am sure they’d argue that an “Ad” is a placement from a company other than Google…it’s their page afterall.

    This won’t hurt the core brand, though it does start to make the search page a bit sloppy. In a pay for impression model, which they dominate, it does seem a bit monopolistic.

    Their expansion beyond search may have some interesting effect on the brand going forward. Where Google search and other apps, have been seen as life enhancers, I wonder if their moves outside of their core will be seen as becoming too intrusive. I have a tad too much Google in my life already…they know a LOT about me.
    Do I really want them to provide my browser and my phone too?

  3. Martin Tassara says:

    The Chrome add is quite annoying: First because is quite big. Second when I go to google.com I want to search for something. I don’t like to get sidetracked thinking if I’m using a good browser to do the search.

    The one about nexus (I’m not seeing that one right now, but I used to get one about Picasa some time back) is not too distracting, at least is text only.

    However, will the core brand be affected? well, I if it is I think it won’t be perceptible.

  4. Mike Anderson says:

    When I select T-Mobile, I get an error message:

    Ooops

    We’re sorry, but we are unable to serve your request at this time.

    Please try back in a few minutes.

    That sucks from Google’s side!

  5. Casey Jones says:

    A very slippery slope.

  6. Chase says:

    I recall when yahoo was simple look at the page now. The pressure is on and I’m sure we will see more ads. The face they were using the logo to highlight Muppet characters is advertising so that would be Three John.

    Chase
    @ChaseUNBOUND

  7. Libby says:

    What’s more amazing is that MM in the past has touted how carefully Google field tests changes to the search interface so as to maximize its utility and minimize degradation to the experience.

    And yet they’ll throw up a big ugly ad (or two!) without even thinking about it?

    Did Google jump the shark here?

  8. I’m not sure it is a slippery slope for Google to advertise their own products on their homepage, after all it makes sense for them to get their products known and talked about as quickly as possible.

    Joe User isn’t going to be the least bit concerned that such additions to the once lean page are being made. They are simply there to search and since the search box hasn’t moved position, then there is little confusion.

    You could argue that Google’s fading in homepage will have more impact…

  9. I think its great that they are utilizing their homepage to market their new products. Who wouldn’t do that??? Who cares about “global brand” or the rest of the non-sense, this is a business that controls the NUMBER 1 source of the world’s eyeballs.

  10. Apparently you don’t think the Mail link is an ad.

    Maybe they’ll just move the links to the navigation area, and then no one will think of them as ads any more.

    :) nmw

  11. Mike says:

    If you use Chrome, you won’t see the Chrome ad anymore. I guess the same wouldn’t be true for the phone.

  12. Jim Huinink says:

    It seems to me that Google has often promoted new products on their home page. These will go away after a while… but then again they are launching more new products all the time. I guess it’s good to call them on it.

  13. the world is ending! the world is ending! arguably those are text ads at the bottom of their page too for advertising programs and business solutions (i see you clicked on one yourself up there in the screenshot).

  14. TOMHTML says:

    John, can you confirm us that Larry and Sergey have ever said that?

    I only know that Marissa Mayer wrote that on Google blog, after the deal with AOL: “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.”

  15. Antonis says:

    its all about money now. It is just a company that tries to expand and increase profits. I believe that when you are expanding your brand you must have products that really stand out from all the rest , bring the revollution, because if you dont then you undermining your brand name…and that is really important now a days. From what ive heard the NEXUS 1 is a state of the art…but not really an evollution….time will tell.

  16. Francesco says:

    yes sir, you are right.. that’s 2 ads on Google’s homepage. On the other hand, I haven’t seen the vanilla Google homepage in a couple of years (barring, when I build a new pc and have to sign into iGoogle).
    Regardless of your preferred home page… all browsers seem to have a search box integrated by now, which can be set to search vs Google, if that’s the search engine you like, so… how many people get to see that vanilla Google page anymore?

  17. John:

    I am the author of BlackBerry Planet a new book on the BlackBerry. As I noted in a recent CBC interview, Google has Nokia and RIM directly in its sites, since in the long run ad supported smart phones are cheaper than regular ones, and will drive regular ones out of business. I recommended that RIM get into the ad business right away or risk being doomed to extinction.

    Love your predictions. Keep up the great work.

  18. Clay says:

    John:

    You have 6 ads on your frontpage, plus Business Insider, where this article was copied to has 11 ads on its front page. 3 of your 6 ads are big and ugly, so I don’t think you should talk.

  19. Bob says:

    I remember once upon a time, a large company got sued for using it’s dominant product (an OS?) to push a browser.

  20. JG says:

    @TOMHTML:

    John, can you confirm us that Larry and Sergey have ever said that?

    When was the Google IPO? April 2004? Let’s go to the wayback machine and see what their corporate philosophy (authored by Larry and Sergei?) said back then:

    http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html

    So the furthest back it goes is June 2004. Google enough. Let’s read:

    While many companies claim to put their customers first, few are able to resist the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value. Google has steadfastly refused to make any change that does not offer a benefit to the users who come to the site:

    Ok, that’s strike #1. Google is no longer resisting the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value. Instead, they’re sacrificing their principle of no ads on the home page, in order to hock their browser and their phone. Notice that they’re not hocking the iPhone. That would add just as much benefit to the user who come to the site, would it not? So don’t respond with any crap about “well, the phone would help users”. No.

    Next, they say: Advertising on the site must offer relevant content and not be a distraction.

    That’s strike #2. A Chrome ad and a Nexus One ad are not relevant to what I wish to find, when I visit the Google home page. They are distractions. They are brand-awareness-raising banner ads, which by definition is a distraction.

    Next: By fanatically obsessing on shaving every excess bit and byte from our pages and increasing the efficiency of our serving environment, Google has broken its own speed records time and again.

    Remember all the stories that Marissa Mayer used to tell, about a user who would email her cryptic messages.. “33”, “48”, “41”, … He was counting the number of bytes on the Google home page. Because Google says that page has to be shaved an efficient. Now that they’re showing two graphical banner ads on the home page, is that shaved and efficient? No. Strike #3.

    One out.

    Next: Google is a business. The revenue the company generates is derived from offering its search technology to companies like America Online and the WashingtonPost.com and from advertising sales based on keyword targeting. However, you may have never seen an ad on Google. That’s because Google does not allow run-of-site ads that appear indiscriminately on every page of our results. Every ad shown must be relevant to the results page on which it is displayed, so only certain searches produce sponsored links above or to the right of the results. Google firmly believes that ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find.

    Strike #4. Ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find. An ad on the Google home page? I haven’t actually entered my search terms yet. Therefore, I have not expressed my information need. Therefore, there only an infinitesimally small probability that the Chrome or Nexus ad is relevant to what I wish to find. Is that the way Google rolls.. by showing banner ads when the probabilities are so small?

    Next: Google has also proven that advertising can be effective without being flashy. Google does not accept pop-up advertising or rich media ads. Text ads that are properly keyword-targeted draw much higher clickthrough rates than flashing banner ads appearing randomly.

    Both of these ads above are rich media; they contain images/icons. Strike #5. And maybe they’re not flashing, but they’re still banner ads, and they’re still appearing randomly, i.e. not in response to an explicit user information need/query. Strike #6.

    Two outs.

    Next: Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a “Sponsored Link.”

    Neither of these ads are clearly identified as “Sponsored Link”. They simply appear (randomly) on the home page. They’re not delineated using yellow or blue background fill. They’re not labeled with the words “Sponsored Link”. Strike #7.

    Finally: “Google’s point of distinction however, is anticipating needs not yet articulated by our global audience, then meeting them with products and services that set new standards.

    Ball #1. Here they say that even though a user has not articulated a need for a new browser, they’re going to go ahead and develop one anyway. So maybe it’s ok to put all these ads on the home page, because, well, we anticipated the user’s needs, and we know best. Let’s call this one a ball.

    So we’re at 2 outs, 1 ball, 1 strike. What’s Google going to do next? It is hoping for a 2 out rally? Or is it only two strikes away from losing the whole inning?

    Whatever the answer, I count SEVEN ways in which these two ads on the home page violate Google’s original corporate philosophy.

  21. Chris says:

    I think it won’t have a big influence on the main brand. Both are ads for google products, so the people wouldn’t mind about. One could see it from another view: It’s just a bit bigger than the links to other Google Services like Gmail and so on. ;)

  22. Zach says:

    I don’t know why this surprises anyone. They’ve been doing this for years with their new products. I use GMail, and I learned about it through a text ad beneath the Google search box, just like the one for the phone that’s on the page now.

    As for the corporate philosophy (@JG): You pointed out yourself that the original Google corporate philosophy allowed for “anticipating needs not yet articulated by our global audience, then meeting them with products and services that set new standards.” Well, that’s precisely what they’re doing here. Their philosophy made an explicit exemption for this precise type of behavior, so it can’t be said to violate the philosophy.

  23. JG says:

    You pointed out yourself that the original Google corporate philosophy allowed for “anticipating needs not yet articulated by our global audience, then meeting them with products and services that set new standards.” Well, that’s precisely what they’re doing here. Their philosophy made an explicit exemption for this precise type of behavior, so it can’t be said to violate the philosophy.

    No, this is not a “get out of jail free clause.

    Zach, there is a big difference between the actual anticipation of that need, and execution of the solution. The need is the “ends”, putting the ad on the home page is the “means”.

    I do not believe that the means justify the ends. You can still anticipate user needs and develop your phones and your web browsers and your chat clients and all that. Without having to resort to breaking your SEVEN other principles about how and where you will show advertisements.

    If what you are saying is true, then the development of the iPhone is also something that anticipatorily was developed to meet changing user needs. So why didn’t Google let Apple put a graphical advertisement on Google’s home page, eh? If your interpretation of the philosophy is the true one, then they really should have. They didn’t. That speaks louder than words.

  24. JG says:

    Correction: “I do not believe that the ends justify the means”

    :-)

    Just because they anticipate user needs does not allow them to violate all their other principles in order to do so. You can anticipate user needs without violating principles.

    Second correction: Perhaps “allow” is too strong of a word. Google can do whatever in the hell it wants. That doesn’t change the objective fact that, when it does act in certain ways, it has violated SEVEN of its principles in doing so.

    Just so that we all understand and are clear on this.

  25. JG says:

    You can still anticipate user needs and develop your phones and your web browsers and your chat clients and all that.

    And don’t forget the horoscopes! I’m still waiting for TechCrunch to announce Google Horoscope!

  26. Andrew says:

    Arrogance exemplified. What makes Google’s product so much worth advertising over something else? Say, a Segway, or some other “world changing” product?

    As a shareholder and user, I find this pretty sad; looks like Google is being overrun by former employees of other second rate silicon valley tech behemoths; the are losing their way.

  27. Jason Braud says:

    Great post, I haven’t seen this yet..

    This will not hurt their brand. It will make their brand stronger. If you are someone like me, who uses all all Google’s free tools and you are a supporter of all that Google does then you might find yourself down the road buying their products. I know when the Google phone comes out I’ll get one, and when their operating system is released I’m there too. Google has no worries in throwing up a few ads and that hurting their overall image.

    Jason

  28. Rashaad says:

    This is going to be bad for Google in the long term. They are starting to morph from an open-source stalwart to something more of a Big Brother, and a competitor to Facebook at that. They are also setting a new bar for other ‘intangible’ product manufacturers in the same class to attain. It’s only a matter of time now before we see Facebook consumer hardware.

    Google should have stayed out of the business of trying to sell real things, but maybe it’s just as well they started – we see a clearer picture now of where they intend to go in the future. I know for sure that I will be migrating away from them as soon as possible

  29. Yuhong Bao says:

    Well, these are just text ads with a little bit of graphics advertising Google’s own products, nothing else. Also note that the two ads are different.

  30. David Sutherland says:

    That Chrome ad is driving me crazy bc we have a lab full of Mac PowerPC G4’s and if I use Google as a home page it taunts the users to try Chrome… even though if the user clicks on the ad and then tries to install Chome they are told PPC is NOT supported.

    Kinda like advertising scuba gear for those who live in the desert. Google, of all people, should get a clue.

    I’m going to change the home page of the lab machines if they don’t stop.

  31. Fes says:

    > How do you think this will effect its core brand?
    I think articles that beg for comments are sad.

  32. Bob says:

    What is your point that the ADs are different? There are 2 ads, hence one is different then the other. 2 ads

  33. Noushad says:

    Managing 700 million visitors a day and still keeping the homepage clean and fresh like a virgin’s parts – barring one or two rashes from her own scratches – is nothing but magical. Gentlemen, be a bit more generous.

  34. Simple Developer says:

    There were actually ads non-related to Google but on Google’s homepage and I was surprised. I found out that it was a virus and I documented the removal process in a short post here:

    http://simpledeveloper.com/ads-on-google-homepage/

    Ads are annoying!!