In April 2007 Google changed the background of his Top-Ads from light blue to a pale yellow. Now, about three years later Google again changed the colour to ‘pale purple‘. While e.g. Gareth Dickson has speculated that this might have been another consequence of the ECJ’s ruling in Google France, Google itself describes the change as am ‘(purely) aesthetic change’:
‘Starting today and ramping up to 100% globally by the end of this week, we’ll be changing the background color for ads that appear above the search results on Google.com as well as our local domains. The ads, which currently have a pale yellow background, will change to have a pale purple background. This change is part of the ‘look and feel’ update to our color palette and logo that we made back in May of this year to keep the Google results page looking fresh and modern. This is purely an aesthetic change to our ads and won’t have any impact on the way we target or serve advertisements on Google.com.’
(for more details & screen shots please see searchengineland.com)
My first thought was that the purple colour kind of resembles the purple colour of the links a user has already activated. Thus, subconsciously user might be more likely to click on the ad. On second thought I had to admit that the purple colour blends in quite well with the rest of the new layout.
To get an unbiased opinion I called a friend and asked her to conduct a search on her old laptop. Although she didn’t notice the change in the beginning she instantly replied that the new background colour would make it much, much easier to differentiate between the search results and the Top-Ad. I am however looking forward to hear my readers’ opinion on this issue.
Summing it up I can’t say that I think the new background colour makes a big difference. As Google is Google however I am quite positive that they will have carried out extensive testing before they introduced the new layout and, yes bearing in mind all the troubles they had in Europe it would surprise me to hear that they’d have opted for a design that might expose them even further. On the other side the ECJ in par 38 of its recent Portakabin decision repeated that Top-Ads are to be seen as advertising besides/outside of the list of (organic) search results.
One final remark: Before you hold you next presentation on keyword advertising please do not forget to update your screen shots … or do you want to hold a presentation on legal history? 🙂