Google Breaks Banner Ad Promise


One of the problems with the use of superlatives is their ability to make you seem like the biggest liar ever. See? Just avoid them. This is advice that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) should take to heart in its future press releases, because in 2005 the company stated that “there will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results page… Ever.” But lo and behold, Google has recently reneged on this promise and the company confirmed it in an email conversation with the UK’s Guardian.

Google Breaks Banner Ad Promise

Google testing banner ads

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is presently testing a system with 30 or so advertisers in the United States where Google will fill a large part of the screen with a banner ad. For example, if you include Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) in your search, well, expect a huge banner ad from the airline.

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Did Marissa Mayer know that she would one day head a Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) “competitor?” Why do I ask? It was Mayer who wrote that Google would never display banner ads…ever. What’s next, Marissa? “I will never buy another company as CEO of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)”?

When Google was recently asked why they went back on such a fundamental promise, the company released a statement saying “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.”

It’s fairly clear that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has determined that no other company can challenge them in search and without viable options, users will just have to “get over it.”

Google’s money loss

Google came to the nation and then the world’s attention in no small part due to the fact that their home page was so stark. In 2000, when the company was still losing money, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin turned down $3 million from Visa Inc (NYSE:V) to display an ad on its home page. The most startling part of that is not the repudiation of Google’s foundation but the fact that Google was still losing money just 13 years ago.

To this day, the home page has never advertised anything with the exception of its own products, and that’s rare, or free ads for the Red Cross following events like Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake.

So why the backtrack? It’s simple: Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has seen AdWords prices erode with advertisers unwilling to pay the prices of the past.

Regardless, I’m certain I’m not the only one who is disappointed. Apparently, breaking promises does not fall under “Don’t Be Evil.”