An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to

April 5, 2007

New Look for Google Ads

Maybe to combat ad blindness or maybe because the new formats are more attractive, Google decided to change some of the ads from Google search results and the content network.

Here are the changes:

* The ads displayed at the top of search results pages for highly competitive keywords have a background (#FFF9DD), instead of a blue background. The new background is so subtle that is almost white and many users might confuse them with the actual search results.

To prevent accidental clicks, "users now need to click on the link in the top line of an ad in order to be taken to an advertiser's site," according to AdWords blog. Until now, you could click anywhere in the ad box, including the blank spaces.

* AdSense ads change the famous "Ads by Gooooogle" branding from a text into an image that contains Google's logo. "After extensive testing and research, we've found that the new formats are not only visually appealing to users, but they also perform even better for publishers and advertisers," explains Leslie Chiang.


  1. Hey,

    You said that the new yellow-colored top ads are very subtle and barely distinguishable from the normal white background of search results, but I disagree. It seems to stand out quite a bit!

    Um, also Google's blog states:
    "Together, these changes help decrease the likelihood that a user will unintentionally click on an ad, while making our highest quality ads more visible."

    So, they too feel it is meant to be more visible now.

    Just something I wanted to point out. :]

  2. Here's a direct comparison. From some angles, that yellow is almost white.

    Look at some hex codes:

    Old background: #E5ECF9 (RGB: 229, 236, 249)
    New background: #FFF9DD (RGB: 255, 249, 221)
    White: #FFFFFF (RGB: 255, 255, 255)

    White - Old background = 26+19+6 = 51.
    White - New background = 0+6+34 = 40

  3. I also disagree, the yellow background is definitely more distinguishable, mainly because of the hue difference.

    And, to be correct, the distance between colors should be Euclidean:

    dist(White, Old background) = SQRT(26*26+19*19+6*6) ~= 32.7

    dist(White, New background) = SQRT(6*6+34*34) ~= 34.5


    However for human perception neither standard distance does not work fine, you'd need one that weights the hue distance more.

  4. I found some VERY interesting points about Google's advertising in a comment from a lady's blog:

    << Regarding the placement of the "Ads by Google" line at the bottom rather than the top actually makes it more noticeable. AdSense ads are all over the place. People have come to expect them. People are tuning them out. Any CHANGE in the look will get people to take notice. Eventually, people will grow accustomed to the new look and will learn to take it for granted again. That's the world of advertising. >>

    About the text links from the referrals (that caused a big debate):

    << Imagine instead that this linking behavior (that you call deceptive) were a part of an advertising network. I want people to buy my widget. Bloggers all over the world say "This widget is great. Buy it!" which link to my site. And, better yet, I only pay when someone follows the link and actually BUYS my widget. Now, how was that deceptive? It WOULD be "deceptive" if the user who clicked the link was taken to a page that had nothing to do with widgets. This, however, would be against Google's policies. The only potential for harm would be if my widgets weren't actually as "great" as all of these bloggers were claiming them to be. But that's the nature of commerce. In reality, this method of advertising has existed for quite some time. It's called "affiliate marketing." Are you now calling Amazon's marketing tactics "deceptive", as well as the marketing tactics of every company that uses affiliate marketing? On top of this, Google will likely be the only company flagging the links (through a mouse-over) as an advertisement.>>

  5. Andrei, I think you're right. The Euclidian distance is better.

    I found more info about those colors here:

    New - #FFF9DD
    Greyscale 248 (2.7 % grey)
    HSV (Hue/Saturation/Value) 49° / 13.3% / 100.0%
    HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) 49° / 13.3% / 93.3%
    YUV (Luminance/Chrominance) 97.1% / -5.1% / 2.5%
    YIC (Luminance/Chrominance) 97.1% / 4.9% / -56.8%

    Old - #E5ECF9
    Greyscale 235 (7.8 % grey)
    HSV (Hue/Saturation/Value) 219° / 8.0% / 97.6%
    HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) 219° / 7.8% / 93.7%
    YUV (Luminance/Chrominance) 92.3% / 2.6% / -2.2%
    YIC (Luminance/Chrominance) 92.3% / -3.3% / -59.8%

    White - #FFFFFF
    Greyscale 255 (0.0 % grey)
    HSV (Hue/Saturation/Value) 0° / 0.0% / 100.0%
    HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) 0° / 0.0% / 100.0%
    YUV (Luminance/Chrominance) 100.0% / 0.0% / 0.0%
    YIC (Luminance/Chrominance) 100.0% / 0.0% / -62.2%

  6. You may also want to measure the distance between the link color inside the ads and the ad background.

    Whatever color measurement you take (is yellow more "inviting" to click because it's warmer? what connotations does light blue have in Japan? etc.), there's a more pragmatic way to look at this: Google wants to increase the click rates in non-evil ways. We have reason to assume that this yellow prototype which they've been testing for a while resulted in "successful" click-throughs compared to the blue one ("successful" probably being "higher").