You may have noticed that ads displayed on Google are starting to look a little more discrete. In days gone by they were pushed to the right hand side of the browser, were clearly marked as Sponsored Links, made heavy use of mixed case in the display URL, and the few that were placed above the organic listings were clearly highlighted with a strong background colour.

Today we see ads that are physically closer to the organic listings, Sponsored Links has been replaced by Ads, display URLs have to use lower case in the domain portion, and the now-common ads above the organic listings use such a subtle pale yellow background that it’s almost impossible to notice on my monitor.

Google results

The ads are slowly but surely blending in with the organic results.

Google have to balance between three quite distinct interests: Google themselves, their advertisers, and the searchers – the people who use Google to find what they’re looking for.

It appears that the searchers are now being pushed slightly down the order of priorities.

Advertisers will start to see increased click through rates, and Google will make more money.

It’s win-win. At least for as long as the searchers don’t realise they’re being misled.