Google appears to have been experimenting with a new ad format within its Search Generative Experience (SGE).
When select users asked the search engine follow-up questions to queries, SGE provided an AI-generated answer alongside sponsored content titled “You May Also Like”.
The feature served a carousel of products, all of which displayed a product title, image and company name.
Why we care. SGE is anticipated to potentially decrease CTR by up to 30% for both organic and sponsored content. However, if brands can secure higher placements within the SGE, it might positively affect CTR. It’s important to note that these ad formats are still in testing, and Google has not confirmed details about potential costs for these placements. Marketers should stay tuned for updates.
Google ‘clearly testing sponsored content’. SEO consultant Glenn Gabe spotted the new ad format test and shared his findings on X. He wrote:
- “We know Google has explained it wants to test more ads in the SGE answer & possibly sponsored parts of the answer. Well, I saw this sponsored module while testing SGE. The carousel of sponsored content showed up after asking follow-up questions.”
- “Worth noting I only had these show up for about a day in SGE… then nothing. So Google is clearly testing the module of sponsored content (and it was based on follow-up questions in SGE). If you focus on paid, definitely a big heads-up.”
First look. Gabe also shared a screenshot of what the “You May Also Like” sponsored content carousel looks like within SGE:
What Google is saying. A Google spokesperson said in a statement:
- “As Search applies the power of generative AI, Search ads will continue to play a critical role. They serve as additional sources of useful information while helping people discover millions of businesses online.”
- “With SGE, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. In this new experience, advertisers will continue to have the opportunity to reach potential customers along their search journeys.”
- “We’ll continue to test and evolve the ads experience as we learn more. As always, we’re committed to transparency and making ads distinguishable from organic search results. When Search ads do appear, they will continue to feature our industry-leading clear and transparent ad labels with the ‘Sponsored’ label in bold black text.”
Deep dive. Read our guide on How Search Generative Experience Works by Search Engine Land contributor Michael King for more information.
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About the author
Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.