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Google decides banner ads, skyscrapers are not evil

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The company that helped discredit lurid web advertising has vowed to bring it back to life. In addition to offering advertisers text classifieds on websites that sign up to its Adsense program, Google will begin offer advertisers graphic ads for the first time. The four formats offered include banner and skyscraper: although they may not be quite what you expect. Google's "banners" are 728 by 90 pixels; that's twice the width of the masthead you see at the top of the page, but much thinner. You can read more here and here.

Google is essentially an advertising broker, and it's engaged in an intense battle with Yahoo!'s Overture service. This sensible commercial move would hardly merit any attention if it wasn't for Google's history of fast, clean and largely graphic-free design, and its avowed purpose to "Do No Evil". The latter was enshrined in a preface to its recent regulatory filing announcing a public share offering. Techno-utopian geeks loved the prospectus, but it bombed with the less giddy financial press.

Both The Observer (advising a major rewrite) and the San Francisco Chronicle compared it to Mother Teresa, while we thought it sounded like a Coca Cola jingle. To Russell Beattie, who recalled an earlier run-in with Google's advertising program, these sentiments already sounded hollow.

Sanctimonious mission statements only come back to haunt the authors. It's best to set the bar really low, so expectations follow. Like this. (Or the 2001 subscription service). ®

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