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It's a little confusing to read now, so for context: at the time Google published this, it only put ads in the sidebar to the right of search results. This post was written to criticize the practice of putting ads atop search results, which competitors sometimes formatted almost indistinguishably from organic search results.

Your link is gold. A historic artifact.

Amazing how clear the writing is, how simple the message. That’s, like, totally not the corpspeak Goog emits now on a daily basis.

So, let’s do some digging.

Earliest version of url dates back 4+ years. https://web.archive.org/web/20151213182805/https://www.googl...

Things were a little better than, but not by much. This has to be earlier.

Ah, here is:


This page is from a book by Douglas Edwards, employee number 59 published in 2011.

The content of OP url, written by same, is dated March 2002.

That company no longer exists. Goog should remove it from their website.

Excellent sleuthing -- makes sense that the message is so old. There's no way they would produce something like this today.

They'll fire all the people who made them this way, and get back to that, if they want to survive the next decade at their scale.

(And OT, or maybe not, as far as I can recall, AdWords was still CPM back then)

The google books link appears to have died: "You have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book"

(I'm fairly certain that I have not viewed anything from this book, nor any book for that matter, this year.)

Is it ironic that the websites often involved in freeing up the knowledge ends up getting hosted in Russia?

The three IP's they return when you do a DNS lookup originate form Rumania, Switzerland and the island country Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The site was created by Russians though, just not sure it is hosted there anymore.

Imagine the sheer sociopathic effort it took to overtake Google. The power plays, the backstabbing, the greed. Oh, to be a fly on those walls.

OOPs - I did the same thing before reading your post...

This bit from the 1998 paper by young researchers Brin and Page, in which they introduce a novel search engine called 'google,' is also fun and instructive:

"It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers."


The post was written to criticize "paid placement" search engines like Goto.com/Overture (see https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2002/03/04/how-overture-go... for details). I believe Google has put ads above search results for as long as AdWords has existed (since 2000).

No, at the very beginning, Google only had the ads in little yellow boxes over to the right. They were very distinct. Then they started putting ads above the search results, but they still had a yellow background. Then they got rid of the background, but the results were still fairly visually distinct from the ads, and there would only be one or two ads above the search results. Now they just put this tiny little box that says "Ad" next to the ad, and they're no longer easily visually separable from search results. Also, very often the first screenful of results is entirely ads. The overall experience has massively degraded.

The other thing I've noticed is that more and more of the top results are from garbage content farms. Filtering this kind of crap out was the original reason Google existed and everyone switched to them, but they're failing at it now. IMO Google is overripe to be replaced with something better.

I have also observed people totally ignoring the top link and clicking a lower one even on searches where the top link was not an ad and was the correct page.

They don't show full URL, and a few times when I clicked on "correct" link I got to a shitty landing which I could not escape. Of course most of the blame is on shitty website design, but still I want to see where the link actually goes to because most of the times for me it's confusing.

Top ads in fact came first, in 2000, and were there through the launch of AdWords. History: https://searchengineland.com/google-adwords-turns-15-a-look-...

This suggests otherwise:

“For example, entering the query "buy domain" into the search box on Google’s home page produces search results and an AdWords text advertisement that appears to the RIGHT of Google’s search results” [1]

It is from October, 2000. It is so ancient, it is even before Schmidt happened. I don’t believe anything preceded that, but to be sure we’ll have to wait for Larry to chime in and clarify.

[1] http://googlepress.blogspot.com/2000/10/google-launches-self...

That press release also says:

> Google’s quick-loading AdWords text ads appear to the right of the Google search results and are highlighted as sponsored links, clearly separate from the search results. Google’s premium sponsorship ads will continue to appear at the top of the search results page.

Indeed. Missed that.

Verdict is this: they started at the top, then things went sideways ;)

Vendors pay for placement throughout google's interface and search results, even if the 'list' of links is still 'organic'. For example, the placement of buy links for movies, flights, hotels, etc. Now with instant articles, google places content higher if it allows google to track and advertise within the article.

You can tell that's old because it's only ~200kb...

And even that can be considered excessive for what it is. Sad.

Oh my god, that page is going to disappear soon now.


The load speed difference between these two archived pages is huge.

I searched for "google search advertisement" in the period 2000 to 2005, looking for screenshots of how Google ads have changed in style and placement over the years. Turns out the first result was this page... oh, the irony.

Amazing. File under not being evil.

Oh wow, the irony.

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