Online Advertising Design | The Rebirth of the Banner Ad?

For those of you who regularly follow the world of online advertising, you may have noticed the speed at which Google has been making changes to its services and offerings. Not only has the company made substantial debuts and upgrades to its end-user services – e.g., Google Instant and Google Images – but it has also been steadily reinvigorating its Google Display Network (GDN), including new ad formats and updates to the tools used to position these ads.

While Google offers many free services and platforms, let’s not forget that these efforts are not without purpose. Everything Google does has some sort of search component to it. It’s the classic example of getting something for free at the expense of advertising exposure. Expanding the reach of its search-based ad platform is the major reason Google is sitting atop $33 billion in cash and assets.

The July 2010 redesign of Google Images was just another case of the company strengthening its sponsored ad ecosystem. Alongside the new look was Google’s introduction of Image Search Ads, which enables an advertiser to serve up a thumbnail image alongside ad text in Images search results. Because of the positive feedback Google received from its ad partners, the company now allows rich media leaderboard units to appear above image search results.

Since its inception in 2001, Google Images has experienced massive growth in terms of deliverable content. The service now has over 10 billion images indexed. That is an extraordinary amount of content that your customers and prospects may be engaging with in their search processes. Since it can be assumed that their behavior has reached a certain amount of “comfort” with the Google Images interface, the fact that ads, and rich media ones at that, are now being presented means that this new space is more likely to be noticed by users. This sort of behavior disruption creates a substantial amount of opportunity for your advertising efforts. This may not necessarily be the rebirth of the leaderboard ad per se, but it does present an exciting, albeit temporary, new channel for a medium that has lost a great amount of favor amongst online advertisers—hence the development and deployment of page takeovers.

My suggestion is to jump onto this ad format as soon as possible and ride the wave while it lasts. As we know, user behavior adapts very quickly to the “clutterization” of the user experience and the window of opportunity for this attention grabbing ad space will soon become dormant. Seth Godin addresses the trend of advertisers destroying channels by over cluttering the user experience in his recent blog post, “The inevitable decline due to clutter”. While the length of effectiveness shall be debated, waiting for the results of this new ad possibility will only cost you potential ROI.

Maybe I’m being too much of an optimist on this revelation though. What do you guys think about Google’s new initiatives? Anyone experiencing any positive and/or negative effects to its GDN advertising efforts with these changes?