Multiple sources, including Search Engine Land, reported that Google is testing a new display ad format for branded queries on standard search results pages. One example seen in the wild is for a brand search on the term “Southwest Airlines” which can trigger a large display banner directly in the search results page:
This is not a completely new look, as advertisers have been able to include images with ads that appear in search results pages for some time. In the past however, these visual elements were smaller, and images were included via ad extensions like Product Listing Ads, or Image Extensions.
The new test is running with 30 advertisers and ads could be shown on 5% of select brand queries according to the Search Engine Land article, although we have not been able to trigger an impression of the new format.
What does this mean for search marketing?
When the large banner is shown, there is a lot less room for organic, or other paid ad results on the first page. Ars Technica has estimated that the new banner ads push the organic results to the bottom 12% of the screen.
If this test is expanded or comes out of beta, it will be much more difficult for competitors or resellers to gain traffic and sales as a result of searches on competitor or partner branded keywords.
Advertisers should also be aware however, that the banner in search will push down results for content related to their brands including social media profiles, news results, articles, Knowledge Graph results etc…
When the Southwest banner is displayed, it is unlikely users would also find these organic results: