Google is currently testing large banner Ads for Brands in Google.com search results. These banners are taking up most of the top section of the search results page. While it’s not unusual for Google to run experiments (the number apparently exceeds 20,000 a year), this one is raising a bit of controversy after Google made a promise back in 2005 to never have banner Ads on their home page or search results page. At this stage the test is small and according to a Search Engine Land  article “the “brand image experiment” is live with about 30 advertisers”, with less than 5% of search queries seeing these banner Ads. It is however a very interesting experiment. If Google were to roll this out as a standard feature, what kind of effect would this have on smaller businesses who also focus on selling these brands? If the focus is taken away from general search results to banner Ads, searchers may visit the brand website (some brands have their own ‘stores locator’) and completely miss other businesses within search results. But this is an experiment that may never go anywhere, like many of Google’s other experiments. Image thanks to: Synrgy