Google's ad-supported model is one that we're now all familiar with. Spend any amount of time online and, unless you have installed some form of ad-blocker, you'll see text advertisements littering numerous websites you visit, including in your search results.
Sponsored search results are nothing new, but Google is now experimenting with large banner ads which show up when certain searches are performed.
A banner ad for Southwest Airlines was first spotted by web firm Synrgy who quickly shared the discovery on Twitter. The new ad program is being described as a "small experiment" and is currently only visible to a limited number of users in the US. Many of Google previous advertising models have been fairly unobtrusive, so this "experiment" marks quite a change in focus.
But more than that, the introduction of banner ads -- if it does become widespread -- would also be a u-turn for Google. Back in 2005, following a $1 billion investment in AOL, the search giant promised that banner advertisements would never appear in search results. The company could not have been much clearer in its wording: "There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever".
The appearance of any banner advertising is clearly in direct opposition to the promise made eight years ago.