Do Be Evil
May 12, 2004 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Google To Start Selling Banner Adverts From the that-didn't-take-too-long-department, Google's ad sales VP Tim Armstrong says Google will now start selling graphical banner adverts. One concession to their old mores is that, for now, the banner adverts will only appear on affiliated websites running their AdSense referral program (as does MeFi), and there is an opt-out. However... "We have no plans to show images on", said Mr. Armstrong "but we are not opposed to it".
posted by meehawl (26 comments total)
Now advertisers will have the option of adding a graphic image to their text ad. But the advertisers will have no guarantee that the graphic version will be shown.

Google's computer system will decide whether to show the text version or the graphic version of the ad, based on its calculation of which would draw the most clicks from users.

I see the ads for adwords are still text-only, though.
posted by Tlogmer at 12:03 AM on May 13, 2004

Google allows publishers to accept graphic ads or just text ads. Doesn't sound so bad. (Sorry for the double-post)
posted by Tlogmer at 12:04 AM on May 13, 2004

From my AdSense account settings:
Your current selection is:
Display text ads only in all ad units.
Good enough for me.
posted by dg at 12:09 AM on May 13, 2004

I just turned on images to see what comes up. If they're really annoying, I'll go back to just text. While I'm talking about the site, I might as well mention that MeFi is mentioned in this case study they did of my TiVo blog.
posted by mathowie at 12:16 AM on May 13, 2004

"but we are not opposed to it".

And that's how the Google Logo was replaced with a Spider-Man 3 advertisement during the Summer of 2006.
posted by wfrgms at 12:35 AM on May 13, 2004

Can you explain how this change equates to 'Do Be Evil' (which is your post title)?
posted by humuhumu at 1:20 AM on May 13, 2004

and there is an opt-out

Actually, website publishers have to explicitly opt-in if they want graphic ads. If they don't, they'll just get the same text ads.

Doesn't sound evil to me.
posted by kfury at 1:37 AM on May 13, 2004

It sounds like Google are taking the "salami" approach to introducing advertising. Over time, they make little adjustments, until after a while, you see that Google are hardly better than the opposition. I don't think will ever be as cluttered as AltaVista was, but I think it's days as a clean, nearly-empty page are numbered.
posted by salmacis at 2:14 AM on May 13, 2004

You're on to something salmacis. I'd forgotten just what Altavista was like at its worst. For reference:

Altavista as a research project

Altavista at the height of the horror ... after they'd gone business

I hope some noble students are coming up with an alternative out there -- and I hope we never need it. I like google.
posted by bonaldi at 2:53 AM on May 13, 2004

humuhumu: "Don't be evil" was their motto, and was part of the philosophy behind google's lack of intrusive ads.
I think especially after the IPO they're going to be hard put to resist the pressure to put big image ads on their search page.
In the short term it will raise revenues: shareholder's aren't that interested in the long term.
Also, I think it's got to the stage where it's going to be very hard for anyone except Microsoft to unseat google as the main search engine.
You can't just create a competitive search engine with a few servers in your basement anymore. Google has over
100,000 servers, running a custom operating system, storing multiple copies of the whole of the web in memory (hard disks are too slow).
Even if Microsoft squeezes them out, it would probably by integrating web search into Windows and Internet Explorer.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2004

I don't want to know how they make the scrapple, I just know Weaver's tasetes the best.
posted by roboto at 5:57 AM on May 13, 2004

Jane you ignorant slut!
posted by roboto at 5:57 AM on May 13, 2004

TE, I don't know how true that is. I've been using google since it was in beta and had a small fraction of the hardware it does now, and really have noticed no quantitative difference *in search* over the years.

There have been lots of extras added in, but the search-search (which is all the newcomers would need - google only had search when Altavista had News, Usenet, all that) seems to be roughly the same speed and the same quality.
posted by bonaldi at 6:03 AM on May 13, 2004

The day Google dies is the day it puts a graphical banner ad anywhere on and that day seems less and less far away.
posted by reklaw at 6:05 AM on May 13, 2004

Yes, because a banner ad is going to suddenly make Google a less useful search engine compared to all the others (most of which already have banner ads).

"Curses," I shall say, "I really wanted relevant results quickly, but there is an ad on the page!"

How about we trade, they get banner ads if they also implement true proximinity searches.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:27 AM on May 13, 2004

... "and, well, shit, but loading that ad has slowed me down from getting the quick results. But, hey, I can find information on the French Revolution near me!"

[/wild sarcasm]
posted by bonaldi at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2004

Graphical ads are WAY easier to block than text ads. (Right-click, "Block images from") So I'm ok with that.

Now Flash ads with sound....
posted by smackfu at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2004

I don't much care whether my search results come from google or yahoo or teoma or wherever, as long as they're good results. Google is my current favourite because it has more pages than anyone else, it's clean, and it's fast. On most popular searches, Yahoo now does just a good as job and is just as fast. Teoma's not bad but the catalogue just isn't the same and it's much slower... As soon as Slurp (the Yahoo crawler) catches up with Google's base of pages, there'll be less reason to use Google.

Google know that; they need to catch people and keep them with some special sticky in order that you'll view their textads and click on them. Hence email, the new groups project, news, etc etc... But they aren't dunces. They know people hate image ads on Google. It's not gonna happen. They'll just sell the ads to other sites and let them be ugly and have slower d/l speeds.
posted by humuhumu at 7:13 AM on May 13, 2004

Although as an off-topic, the new Google Groups Beta is just horrible... the first thing Google's done that I've found horrid to look at and horrid to use.
posted by humuhumu at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2004

bonaldi TE, I don't know how true that is. I've been using google since it was in beta and had a small fraction of the hardware it does now, and really have noticed no quantitative difference *in search* over the years.

However the web has got a might bit bigger since the Beta Google days. The shear volume of pages needing to be regularily indexed in order to have a useful search engine has raised the bar to entry for any new player.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2004

Here's a question:

Why does everybody treat Google like they're some kind of paragons of virtue?

They're just a vendor. That's all. And they will behave like one. Everything they do, from "Don't be evil" to gradually shifting to graphical ads, will be driven by their analysis of what's good for Google as a corporation.

That's it. That's the whole picture.

The only difference between them and their competition is their analysis of what's best for Google.
posted by lodurr at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2004

Because they're clever and cool and when they hit the scene they appeared to "save" us from the suffering imposed by a more traditionally braindead corporation.

Same thing that happened with Apple and the Mac. They're pretty lousy as a corporation sometimes, but people still treat them as great.
posted by bonaldi at 8:21 AM on May 13, 2004

Why don’t people wait till Google actually start doing all the things being bitched about here, before starting to bitch? People act like Google is stabbing them in the back — Google, their oldest and truest friend.
posted by chunking express at 8:50 AM on May 13, 2004

Now Flash ads with sound

Install FlashBlock and be as happy as I am with it.
posted by Mick at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2004

Google, their oldest and truest friend.

Another example....
posted by lodurr at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2004

However crappy Google may get in the future, I think Yahoo will always retain the #1 Stinker spot for anti-user nastiness and crusty uselessness. Google would have to try really, really, really hard to become anywhere like as evil as Yahoo..
posted by meehawl at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2004

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