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Google ad label experiment makes it easier to distinguish paid results

Google is testing a new ad label in search results, the company confirmed to Search Engine Land. The experimental label (shown below) differs from the current ad label in that it is enclosed by a green box, which may help users distinguish it from organic results.

A screenshot of Google's experimental ad labelA screenshot of Google's experimental ad label
Image: Amir Shahzeidi.

Tip of the hat to Amir Shahzeidi for bringing this to our attention.

Side-by-side comparison. Below is an image, created by Greg Finn, comparing the experimental label (left) with the current label.

Google's experimental ad label side-by-side with its current ad labelGoogle's experimental ad label side-by-side with its current ad label
Image: Greg Finn.

In addition to being enclosed by a green box, the experimental label is not followed by any other text, unlike the example of the current label shown above.

Different tests, but related. In January, Google was seen testing favicons in text ads. Despite being quite different, this latest test is related to the same series of tests as the favicons.

“This is part of a series of small experiments to help users more easily identify the brand or advertiser associated with the Search ads they may see for a given query,” a Google spokesperson told us. “We are always testing new ways to improve the experience for users on the search results page, but we don’t have anything specific to announce right now.”

Why we care. Over the years, the design of Google’s ad labels has made paid listings trickier to distinguish from organic ones. However, this latest test seems to be a step back from that trend — it actually resembles the green, boxed label from 2017.

Whenever Google makes changes to the design of the ad label, those changes can impact clickthrough rates. Since this change might make it easier to identify ads, some advertisers may see a decline in CTR if the experiment receives a wider rollout.

However, others have not been able to replicate this test, so at this time, we’re not sure where else this label might appear (outside of app ads).

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