Search commercial break: Google tests video ads

How long till we see dancing aliens on Google's results page?

By Farhad Manjoo
Published March 26, 2008 4:45PM (EDT)

A few months ago Google said that it was preparing to add video ads to its search results page. That function has now gone live on a few keywords -- search for "phones," "smart phones," or "cell phones" and, mixed among the many ads, you may see an AT&T or Blackberry pitch with a link that says "Watch demonstration."

Click there and a small video slides into view.

So what's the big news here? After all, aren't pages across the Web clogged with moving ads?

Yes, but we're talking about the Google results page here: The last online redoubt of minimalist design, where text has always held the upper hand over images.

True, the new ads do fit in with Google's clutter-free ethos -- the video doesn't show up automatically, just in response to a click.

Still, they mark a foot in the door. Google can get boatloads more dough for graphical ads. It will strive mightily to fight chaos, to keep its results pages clean of commercial detritus, but how long can it hold off? How much longer, really, till you type in "mortgage" and see this?

Google AdWords Video Ads Now Live & In the Wild [Search Engine Land]

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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