Is it an ad? Is it an organic listing? No, it’s a sponsored comparison ad.
This week I’m going to be going over something I discovered in an article on Web Pro News a couple of weeks ago regarding Google possibly offering paid inclusion. To the best of my knowledge, Google aren’t offering paid inclusion at this moment and the suggestion of it was a little bit of sensationalism by WPN to draw the reader in.
What Google has gone and done though is introduce something called ‘sponsored comparison ads.’ Now, comparison ads aren’t something new, they have existed (especially in the USA) for certain industries for a while but these new sponsored comparison ads are a fresh update and occupy an area of the page usually the reserve of organic listings.
Above: the old comparison ads in the yellow box. Below: New sponsored comparison ads in organic territory.
Comparison ads appear in the USA when people conduct one of the following searches:
- Financial Products
- Hotel Search
- Flight Search
In the UK however, these ads only appear for financial product searches, specifically current accounts and credit cards.
In the past, Google has happily called these units comparison ads but in an interview with Search Engine Land, Google referred to these new units as ‘a third kind of thing’, not an ad and not an organic listing. I believe this is the main issue causing a stir at present because by not implicitly denying these units as paid inclusion, does this mean they are? The original article that sparked all this can be found at Search Engine Land and examines this point in more detail.
In the meantime, keep your eyes open in the UK for these new ads in financial product related searches and watch this space, this story could end up being messy for Google considering in their 2004 IPO, they called out against paid inclusion.