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Google to offer circular ads – how small businesses are at a disadvantage

Google introducing circulars

Coming soon is Google’s newest advertising innovation, in the form of circulars, just like print circulars in newspapers. When people search on Google, search ads in the sidebar or banner ads on the web will pop up with a colorful circular when a traditional ad is clicked. The search ads will be moving away from text-only and feature larger type and multiple pictures to entice users to click, a move that is both exciting yet controversial.

The ads are a dream for marketers with big budgets as the promotions are crafted based on the location of the user and the search terms they used, enticing the person searching to click on the colorful sidebar ad on the right as they are distracted from the list of boring blue links on the left. Taking advantage of America’s shiny object syndrome, Google will make more money as more links are in the circular ads (Google is paid by the click).

Best Buy and Macy’s have signed on and the circulars are compatible with smartphones, tablets and desktops. The ultimate irony is that Google will promote the new circulars via print, not just web.

The end of newspapers?

Some opine that this is the final nail in newspapers’ coffins, and we disagree. The generations that are comfortable with circulars enjoy the tangibility of sitting on the floor on a Sunday morning with football on in the background, poking around circulars as a form of window shopping from home and discovering new toys and shiny objects, not just Googling a product they already knew where to find and that it even existed in the first place. The discovery process is lost in the Google circulars model, a bridge which has yet to be formed between traditional and digital advertising.

How is this controversial?

The controversy in the new (and admittedly beautiful) ads is that it detracts from the very content users were seeking. With the tiny attention span of Americans, users will see a colorful picture in the sidebar compared with jumbled text results on the left in black and blue and immediately go toward the shiny object. Without search results, Google search is nothing, so some brands and website owners (especially small businesses) may feel that this puts them at a disadvantage and bullied into placing Google circulars ads which is unrealistic for brands on smaller budgets.

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Controversy or no controversy, newspapers or no newspapers, advertising is changing rapidly and Google is on board to adapt to the shortening attention span of its audience.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Steve Norris

    October 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    SO Google's newest, best idea is to mimic newspapers and to further dilute user experience. What a cesspool of banality that company has become.

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