Ads as content (or testing Google and Shopzilla)

When searching for information advertising is content. Given that we’ve taken a very transparent approach to testing various ad services on Mahalo: WE FEATURE the ads!

Today we started testing Shopzilla ads on our search results, and as you’ve no doubt noticed we have Google text ads as well. Instead of having small “ads by…” text on the bottom right we’ve decided to put a HUGE font and text above the ads saying: Ads by Google or Ads by Shopzilla.

My thinking is that if you are super upfront about what’s an advertisement and what’s content folks will really focus on the ads *IF* they are in commerce mode. If users are not in commerce mode we don’t want to try and trick them/shif them…. let them stay in information mode.

Sort of the Jeff Bezos school of thought I think… make your page the best place on the planet for information about the product and have a clearly labeled commerce area that users can go to when they’re ready.

Not sure this will work, but I really like the approach as a consumer.

PS – Anyone have ideas for advertising providers by vertical that really provide value to the user? Who would you use for health or travel ads? Would you stick with Google or use some niche player?

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