Companies are always changing their products and services. You may not have spotted the latest subtle adjustments to Google’s ‘Sponsored Links’ section. Nevertheless, it clearly has changed. What once was yellow has now become purple.
So what might this mean for the results?
According to Google:
“This is purely an aesthetic change to our ads and won’t have any impact on the way we target or serve advertisements on Google.com.”
Well, if Google really have done it for purely aesthetic reasons then it’ll probably have little impact at all. Perhaps a few grumbles and complements here and there in the forums, but most people use the search engine so quickly they’ll barely notice the change – consciously. You see, I asked the guys in the office here; initially, most of them said “What? A new colour coding system for Google?” Then, after a little think, “Actually, yes I do remember something being different.”
On a subconscious level, perhaps we do detect the colour change. To that end, let’s explore the psychological impact of purple.
Purple has been known to calm the mind and to combat feelings of anxiety or fear; it has been used as a holistic aid for nervous disorders. Perhaps then, Google are trying to subtly relieve the fear of clicking on sponsored links?
What about the connotations? According to a number of websites, purple symbolises wealth and wisdom. It’s farfetched at best, but maybe they’re trying to make us feel that sponsored links are wise, and bring wealth?
Alternatively, perhaps we’re focusing too much on the impact the colour has on the links themselves, and not enough on the effect the colour has on the area around the links. In a post we wrote a while ago, theEword’s managing editor Daniel Nolan looked at research on areas of attention in search results.
Considering that 90 per cent of readers spend time looking at the sponsored results above the organic (non-paid for) ones, it makes sense for Google to ensure that this area is pleasing on the eye, whilst maintaining its clear differentiation from the organic results.
So perhaps there is a psychological element to the colour change. Possibly it’s been implemented to keep us calm during a stressful day at work. Maybe we’re supposed to see it and picture a wise old man, or mountain of gold.
On the other hand, they might just have done it because it looks pretty. As for the truth, only Google will know for certain. Either way, according to this story Google are always reassessing their user interface; though it might last for a while, it’s unlikely that purple is here to stay.