We were alerted that Google appears to be testing favicons in Germany and Poland for AdWords advertisers. Here are a few screens:
A number of advertisers in the US have informally reported higher CTRs using the Google Checkout icon. (One discussion I had with an advertiser in the UK last week said he saw an 8 percent lift in clicks.) Icons in AdWords potentially can provide a bit of “branding” or at least help advertisers stand out from one another. (Yahoo’s SearchMonkey pushes this much further in organic results.)
The paradox, however, is that if everyone does this it probably ceases to be effective.
Postscript by Barry Schwartz: Interestingly enough, Google has been testing favorite icons on the organic (free) search side as well. About a month and a half ago, I reported this at the Search Engine Roundtable, where we spotted confirmation of this test from a Googler.
Like Greg, I would be surprised if those icons did not increase one’s CTR and ultimately increase the ads quality score, leading to a lower CPC price.