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Monday, July 16, 2007

Google’s Undisclosed Movie/ Self Promotion

If you search Google for Jason Bourne in the US, you’ll hit upon an undisclosed blue-background ad taking up the top part of the search results. The box reads:

Become an agent in the Ultimate Search for Bourne with Google
The Ultimate Search for Bourne with Google begins in less than one week. Add the agent gadget to your iGoogle page to get the latest intelligence and the edge.

... and allows you to expand a YouTube movie trailer.

Forget about neutral search results – this particular top result is due to a partnership between Google and Universal Pictures, promoting the movie The Bourne Ultimatum, the iGoogle homepage (via the gadget, which interestingly enough requires sharing your Google mail with Universal Pictures), as well as the (quote Google) “fantastic prizes” like the Volkswagen Touareg 2 “as seen in The Bourne Ultimatum”.

Previous Google/ movie cooperations included The Da Vinci Code and The Break-Up, none of which messed with Google search results. However, it’s not the first search results “cooperation" for Google – a company claiming they don’t “manipulate search results by hand” – and also not the first Google results self-promotion (the latter, Google retracted after criticism).

[Via Google System -> SE Roundtable.]

Update: It’s possible Google disabled this now – I can’t reproduce this anymore on any of the query variants that worked earlier today. (If so, I think it’s good Google listens to feedback...) [Thanks James Xuan!]

Update 2: Nope, that blue undisclosed promotion box still appears for some queries. [Thanks Ionut and Tony!]

Update 3: The search results box got changed and now reads “Google Promotion” in the top right, disclosing it as an ad. And after all, Google (who once said they “never manipulate rankings to put [their] partners higher in [their] search results” and that their “ads are created and managed under the exact same guidelines, principles, practices and algorithms as the ads of any other advertiser”) got paid with “goods” as they received product placement in the Bourne Ultimatum: as part of the collaboration which convinced Google it’s OK to rent out their results space, one movie scene shows a Google search taking place.

[Thanks Mbegin!]


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