Could Google Take us Back to Banner Ads?



The New York Times looks at how Google brought online advertising out of the dark ages of banner-ads and X10 pop-unders. The article suggests that Google could turn to banner ads, once it has the infrastructure.

Some analysts view Google’s embrace of text as temporary, predicting that the company will add image advertising to its site just as soon as it can build the infrastructure. Jordan Rohan, an Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said that given the fact that Google serves up 100 million search-query results a day, were the company to add a single photo-quality image to each page, the bits for each page would increase a thousandfold and the resulting load would figuratively “break the Internet.”

Google, however, responds that text-ads will continue to be the preferred medium as they simply contain more information.

Is Google holding off on image ads because of inadequate infrastructure? No, responds Mayer. She says Google uses text for ads because of cognitive science: text has the highest information density and allows users to scan a lot of information at the highest speed, or, as she phrased it, “the bit rate on text is very fast.” Anything that gets in the way of speed-reading must go.