Google’s ads just look like search results now
Last week, Google began rolling out a new look for its search results on desktop, which blurs the line between organic search results and the ads that sit above them, the only thing differentiating ads and search results is a small black-and-white “Ad” icon next to the former. It’s been formatted to resemble the new favicons that now appear next to the search results you care about. Early data collected by Digiday suggests that the changes may already be causing people to click on more ads.
Up until 2013, the search engine gave its ads an entirely different background color to distinguish them from its organic search results. But even after that, it continued to use unique colors that effectively let users quickly see where its ads ended and organic results began.
Google partially explained the change by saying that adding favicons to organic search results means that “a website’s branding can be front and center,” which means “you can more easily scan the page of results.” In the past, Google’s Sundeep Jain justified simplifying the company’s ad designs by saying that a simpler design “makes it easier for users to digest information,” He added that the company was trying to reduce the number of different colors used on a page in order to bring a little more “harmony” to the layout.
According to one digital marketing agency, click-through rates have already increased for some search ads on desktop, and mobile click-through rates for some of its clients increased last year from 17 to 18% after similar changes to Google’s mobile search layout. Google is fundamentally an ad business. In the third quarter of 2019, Google’s parent company Alphabet made nearly $34 billion from Google advertising, out of total revenue of $40 billion for Alphabet as a whole.
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