A large ad spied atop Google search results on Wednesday was seen as evidence that the Internet titan was breaking a promise that it would never resort to the tactic.
A picture fired off at the Twitter account of digital marketing company Synrgy prompted reports that Google is experimenting in the United States with "banner ads" atop results for searches targeting brands.
The move appeared to break a vow made about eight years ago by then Google executive Marissa Mayer, who is now chief of Yahoo.
"There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage of Web search results pages," Mayer said in a blog post that remained available online Wednesday.
"There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever."
Synrgy reported that a Google search targeting Southwest Airlines delivered results topped with a large ad showing a promotional photo accompanied by links for reservations or other services at the company.
Technology news website Search Engine Land quoted a Google spokesman as confirming the banner ads were part of a "small test" taking place in the US market.
Google did not respond to AFP requests for comment.
First Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013, 09:03