Google Denies Banner Ad Rumors

Google last week categorically denied recent rumors that it will allow image ad units on its main search page. "There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or Web search results pages," wrote Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, on the Google Blog. "There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever."

Mayer wrote the post last week to address concerns raised by the recently announced Google-AOL pact, which involves Google paying Time Wraner $1 billion for a 5 percent stake in AOL. Google's statement that the AOL partnership would be used to expand the display advertising on the Google Network prompted industry watchers to speculate that display ads might begin to appear on Google pages as well.

Mayer also addressed concerns that the credits in the AdWords auction granted AOL by the deal would affect the whole auction system. "AOL will receive a credit towards advertising purchased through Google's ad program," she wrote. "You might wonder if this will affect the ad auction. It won't. We don't offer preferential treatment on advertising (in either the auction or the display) to any of our partners."

When the deal was announced, many analysts speculated that if Google offered special consideration to AOL's pages in its search results, a major loss of confidence could result. "It brings up tremendous conflict of interest issues--is that AOL Madonna video in the search results because it's the most relevant result or because it's part of the AOL deal?" wrote Forrester Research Analyst Charlene Li.

Mayer aimed to directly address those concerns in the blog post. "Providing great search is the core of what we do. Business partnerships will never compromise the integrity or objectivity of our search results," she wrote. "If a partner's page ranks high, it's because they have a good answer to your search, not because of their business relationship with us."