Ads for Google products are coming fast and furious on Google's homepage, the place a Google search executive famously declared would be forever ad free.
People have noticed that Google is running not only an ad and link for users to install the company's Chrome Web browser, but an ad for the Google Nexus One smartphone. This ad is accompanied by a photo of the Nexus One and a link to Google's new Webstore, where users can buy the Nexus One and, eventually, other Android smartphones.
These ads comes four year after Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, famously wrote in a blog post: "There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or Web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever."
While the current ads for Chrome and Nexus One are not flashy, they are prominently placed. Chrome is in the top-right corner, while the Nexus One promotion sits right under the search box.
One can't miss them, provided they appear at the moment a user navigate to the page. Sometimes just the Chrome ad shows, sometimes just the Nexus One ad is on display. Others see the full monty of Chrome and Nexus One on display.
A Google spokesperson was unapologetic about the homepage plug in a statement e-mailed to eWEEK:
""We are currently showing a link on our home page for the Nexus One. From time to time we include a link on the Google home page that points users to exciting and important information, whether it be awareness about an important cause or information about a new product or service. We've run similar promotions for the T-Mobile G1 and the Motorola Droid.""
Indeed, Google in November advertised the Motorola Droid smartphone, sending users to Verizon Wireless to buy the device. And why not? As the New York Times noted, Web traffic analysts at Compete said Google.com currently reaches 146,063,379 unique visitors each month, and delivers 2,636,325,410 new page views in a month.
That's a lot of eyeballs to learn about Chrome and Nexus One, products Google desperately needs to succeed to expand its Web services reach through its browser and search purview on the mobile Web, respectively.
Still, the fact that Google is leveraging the premier piece of Web real estate -- its popular Google homepage -- to hawk its products isn't sitting well with critics of the company who wait for Google to misstep and then pounce.
Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson, who regularly challenges Google on its privacy practices, noted in a blog post Jan. 6:
""How long do you think it will be before Google starts to sell ad space on its homepage? Or do you think they'll just use it to tout their own stuff? And here's an idea. If privacy is so important to Google, and its privacy dashboard is so helpful to consumers, why not feature a privacy banner ad in the upper right corner of the home page for the rest of the month?""
Google's answer to that last question could fairly be that it's in the business of selling ads and Web services, not privacy.