Google tests ads in Assistant results

With the Assistant now on a billion devices, the move was inevitable.

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Google appears to be testing the delivery of ads in Google Assistant results. The screen below, from Gennaro Cuofano, who performed a search on an Android phone, shows an ad for an Executive MBA program in Italy. He added, on Twitter, that organic results were below the fold and, “The answer on the voice assistant pretty much mirrored the search result page on that one.”

Assistant ads probably inevitable. We were unable to find any ads ourselves in multiple attempts (on iOS or Android) using the Google Assistant. However, it was only a matter of time before Google started testing ads in Assistant results.
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Assistant could “cannibalize” traditional results. Google previously announced that its Assistant is now on one billion devices (mostly smartphones). As some percentage of search queries migrate to the Assistant — we don’t have any official numbers from Google — potential PPC revenue will be lost in traditional search results. Hence this experiment.

We’ve reached out to Google and will update this post with any comments.

Why you should care. Google undoubtedly will label this an experiment and any formal rollout of paid-search ads in the Assistant might not come until quite a bit later, if at all. Let’s assume, however, that Assistant ads are in fact inevitable. It’s probably unlikely that Google will place multiple ads in these results. If there’s only a single ad CTRs could be higher than in conventional results.

It’s not clear whether this was the number one ad on the page. But I would guess it was. Accordingly, the top ad position will probably gain this additional, high-visibility distribution — if this goes forward.

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About the author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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