With all the headlines that Google, Apple, and Yahoo! have been making recently, it’s easy to forget all about Microsoft. The company may not be making those juicy and highly-buzzed announcements like its competitors, it’s still one of the most dominant sites on the internet. And, at the October 30 Big Ads Event at the Microsoft Campus, the company announced that it’s attempting to make the search engine game a bit more interesting.
It was announced that Bing is toying around with massive ad banners. What exactly does this mean? The so-called ‘hero’ ads are simply huge advertisements that appear in a Bing Smart Search that are tied into Windows 8.1. In other words, when you search for a specific brand, that company will basically take over your screen. As of now, Walt Disney World, The Home Depot, Radio Shack, Land Rover, and Volkswagen are early partners.
The project is currently limited to a small number of consumers running Windows 8.1 in the United States. There’s no word yet on whether or not the ‘hero’ ads pilot will appear on the open web. But it is certain that Microsoft will be analyzing the test results and welcoming feedback from testers so that marketers have something “that works best for advertisers and Windows 8.1 users”.
About a week before the Bing announcement, it was uncovered that Google was tinkering with larger banner ads. On October 23, 2013, @SynrgyHQ posted an image on Twitter that showed a sponsored cover photo for Southwest Airlines. Google confirmed that a small test run was currently going on in the U.S. – less than 5 percent of search queries. So far, about 30 brands, including Crate & Barrel, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America, are participating.
What’s interesting about Google’s experimentation with massive banner ads is that back in 2005 the company pledged:
There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.
It appears that Google has since had a change of heart. But, why? Can these type of banner ads be effective?
In response to the Bing ‘hero’ ads, Wordstream, an online advertising company, seems optimistic about the project:
Branded searches have navigational intent – meaning the user is almost always simply trying to navigate to a brand’s website. Companies with strong brands would definitely be interested in providing a better branded experience than a 25-character headline, and the new Hero Ad format delivers user intent, branding and task completion! It’s like a landing page directly in the search results
However, one major drawback for these banners is that related search results are pushed further down than traditional search ads. So while traffic may increase for the specific brand/advertiser, other sites could suffer.
How do you feel about the banner ads that both Bing and Google are experimenting with? Do you think that this will be beneficial for brands and advertisers? Or will this do more damage than good?
Image via Microsoft.com
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!