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Effect Of Search Ad Background Colors

By shanesnow
Published on July 9, 2008

As iCrossing has pointed out, Google has been playing with the background colors behind the sponsored search ads at the top of search results pages. These tests appear to have run only in the UK over the weekend.

When managing paid search accounts, split testing of ads and landing pages is vitally important to a successful campaign. This brings up the question: is Google split testing new background colors in order to improve CTRs? Or are they simply playing around?

A higher contrasting background could mean more click throughs on an ad. But in some cases, ads that blend into the page to look more like organic results perform better. It’s all part of the optimization game, and that’s why it’s important to test what works in your own industry.

Here is what Google search results typically look like:
(All screenshots are courtesy of Search Engine Roundtable)

Here is what Google appears to be testing in certain areas of the UK:

Also, in May of this year, Google tested the color green in a similar way:

We’ll see what Google ends up doing. If they’re after eye-catching, high-contrast ad space, I’m thinking that bright neon pink and a Twitter-esque font will do the trick.


Screenshots in this post are property of owner, Search Engine Roundtable. Contact us concerning any copyright or fair use concerns.

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2 Responses to “Effect Of Search Ad Background Colors”

  1. Dr. Pete (11 comments.) Says:

    Hadn’t noticed that; that’s really interesting. You’ve got two competing effects: (1) the “call out” effect of setting those ads apart in a different color (which could be good or bad, as you mentioned), and (2) the effect of the color itself, both as it grabs attention and sets an emotional tone. I’d love to see that data.

  2. shanesnow (3 comments.) Says:

    I’d love to see that data, too, Dr. Pete. I really am curious as to what extent the psychology of color has different effects on the different groups of people that are searching. If that makes sense.

    Thanks for the comment, by the way!

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