Why Google's Universal Search Is Brand-Friendly

Danny Sullivan on Search Marketing

By Published on .

"These aren't your grandfather's search results."

Perhaps Google might try this play on the old Oldsmobile tagline to explain the radical change happening as part of its "universal search" system that was launched last week.

With universal search, it's no longer just 10 matching web pages that show up in response to searches. Instead, the results might include news articles and photos, local listings with a map, book results, images and video.
Danny Sullivan
Photo: Jason Meyer
Danny Sullivan has been covering the search-marketing industry for more than a decade and is editor in chief of SearchEngineLand.com.

Shock, horror! Images? Video? In the search results of never-gonna-have-banner-ads Google? Yes. And these graphical units in particular promise to shake up the way marketers in the future will make use of Google's search-results pages.

Google's search results are the bedrock of its success, and any type of nontextual material has been largely restricted out of fear of upsetting Google's core users. Don't let them get distracted -- or annoyed -- by bright, shiny things. Keep them reading and clicking, and some of those clicks will go to ads, keeping the Google revenue fires burning.

The problem with those pesky pay-per-click ads is they don't pull in enough money from the big brand advertisers, who prefer flash and gloss over three lines of haiku-style text. Google's already been experimenting with video ads, both the stand-alone, click-to-play variety as well as in-stream ads in editorial video content. If Google searchers show no adverse reaction to the addition of video to search results, you can expect video ads of both types to follow.

Video and images in search results also open the door to more standard graphical display units in search results. Want to build brand using CPM-based display ads? That time might not be far off, at Google.

You might read that Google competitors are complaining that Google universal search is nothing new. It's true. They, along with Google, have been including material beyond web pages in search results for years. But it hasn't been as dramatic or blended as what Google is doing.

More important, Google is the search-operating-system standard. Thanks to Google's moves here, the door is now open for more graphical options for advertisers not just on the most popular search site but across all the major search engines.
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