For one thing, they have a policy of only showing advertising that is “relevant,” and you can’t think about relevancy until someone types in a search query.  For example, if I type in the search, “Dogwalker rates in Washington DC,” Google may decide to show me an ad that links to a local dogwalking company.  But until I type something into the Google search bar, Google doesn’t know enough about me.

But another reason is that Google’s brand is heavily wrapped up in its clean, ad-free homepage, and it probably doesn’t want its homepage to turn into something like the image above (which would make Google feel like all the other search engines).

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Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Email him at