TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: How Google Tamed Ads on the Wild, Wild Web

How Google Tamed Ads on the Wild, Wild Web

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 20 Nov 2005 22:36:30 -0500

Digital Domain


FIVE years ago, Web advertisers were engaged in an ever-escalating
competition to grab our attention. Monkeys that asked to be punched,
pop-ups that spawned still more pop-ups, strobe effects that imparted
temporary blindness - these were legal forms of assault. The most
brazen advertiser of all, hands down, was X10, a little company
hawking security cameras, whose ubiquitous "pop under" ads were the
nasty surprise discovered only when you closed a browser window in
preparation for doing something else.

Today, Web advertisers by and large have put down their weapons and
sworn off violence. They use indoor voices now. This is a remarkable

Thank you, Google.

Without intending to do so, the company set in motion multilateral
disarmament by telling its first advertisers in 2000: text only,
please. No banner ads, no images, no animation. Just simple words,
which would go either at the very top of the page, above the search
results or, alternatively, as the experiment evolved, at the far
right. These "sponsored links" had to conform to strict limits on
length and aggressiveness in punctuation and phrasing. If you wanted
to claim in your ad that you were the "best," you had to display the
third-party authority that authenticated the claim.

Google introduced these ads at the very moment when X10 ads were
strewn like chewed gum on every square of sidewalk. X10's pop-unders
were accepted at mainstream sites run by companies including
Microsoft, Yahoo and The New York Times.

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