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Google is one to always look for ways to innovate and improve their PPC advertising platform. After all, PPC makes up the majority of Google’s profit – any way they can eek out performance will be a welcome addition. Not only do Google want to make more money from PPC, they also want to improve the user experience for both advertisers and web users alike.


One form of A/B testing Google seem to have recently started to execute is with the color of the ‘Ad’ sign in paid search results. The standard color for this is currently set to green. However, with this new test of Google, they have looked to change this to black.

This is the first example ever in Google that an advert does not contain any green in search results, or where if there is green it only appears in the URL section.  The outline has also been removed from the ‘Ad’ sign, minimizing the color surrounding the ‘Ad’ sign.


Analysis: Google’s PPC Adverts Turning Native

This is a very interesting move by Google. Firstly, replicating such an advert has proved very difficult, so it is clear Google are doing very select testing, in the very early stages of this A/B testing.

It is a slow progressing away from adverts being seen as ‘adverts’ and more like organic search results. For this reason, it is highly likely that adverts would get increased click through rates from blending better with organic search results: something both advertisers and Google will benefit from financially.

With this in mind, it should have a positive effect to PPC. By making adverts blend better and become more ‘native’, it is harder for the web user to tell what is an advert and what isn’t – a big cue for people to see adverts comes with the color. Removing green will mean the color scheme of adverts will completely mimic the color scheme of organic search results.

What is most interesting about this, though, is what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) told Google all the way back in 2013. There was a move by the FTC to make search engines display adverts much clearer, so the web user is able to differentiate them better. At the same time, Google removed all background shading to an ‘Ad’ sign with a yellow background. This then moved to green, with recent tests suggesting that this will move to black.

Something tells me Google hasn’t listened to what the FTC was saying.

With this, it will be very interesting what the FTC does in response to this potentially rolling out, as all the signs are there that this is blending adverts further into organic search results.

Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money developing himself into an expert in PPC, blogging SEO, and online marketing. He now runs others websites such as Poem Analysis, Book Analysis, and Ocean Info. You can follow him @willGreeny.

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