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Can ads make Google and YouTube more attractive?

Some Web sites have a more basic design, one created purely for function. But as the Web evolves beyond mere function, is it possible that ads can help sites become more attractive?

Rumors have begun to trickle from Googleville that the Jolly Search Giant is beginning to change its mind about those fickle fellows who espouse creativity.

You know, the sort who don't necessarily think you should research 41 different shades of blue. The sort, indeed, who sleep under their desks at ad agencies.

Which leads me to wonder whether a certain rebalancing might shortly occur in the tender relationship between the left-brainers and right-brainers of product selling.

The Web largely began as a functional experience, where everything you looked at was created by those who felt that what it does would always be a little more more important than how it looks. Partly because these people had no idea, nor did they really care, how to create something that actually looked truly inviting.

Few might agree that Google and YouTube, despite the fact that huge numbers of fingers populate them daily, are the most aesthetic of locations. Utilitarian would be the polite way of describing their sense of design.

A 10-year-old mathematician's idea of pulchritude would be a less charitable version. Somehow, every time I go to YouTube, in particular, it feels like the crummiest of Blockbusters, with DVD boxes that are fraying at the corners.

A little like a crummy video store? CC Original Hamster/Flickr

Ad agencies, very heavy on pretty and very light on engineering, at first tried to mimic print ads and billboards and squeezed them into a medium that was far more individual, far more personal than any seen before.

The Googlies thought ad agencies somewhat risible relics of a disappearing world--like a bunch of Don Johnsons trying to deal with the brainy world of CSI.

Yet while the Web is still very functional, it is also the place where we increasingly live far too much of our lives. We watch TV on the Web. We read papers on the Web. We find lovers on the Web. And we continue to tell them how much we love them on the Web.

I know that some people feel that the pages of, for example, Yahoo Sports and the Huffington Post have been occasionally enhanced by wallpaper ads that add energy to the home pages without taking away from the content.

So advertising, done right, surely has a chance to make Web pages more attractive, more involving, and more inspiring.

There was a time in the U.K., for example, when the TV ads were actually more interesting than much of the programing. It is possible. It does happen. Brazil is another country where advertising can be far more involving far than the latest soap opera.

As Google decides that display advertising is where the new money will inevitably be, ad agencies might just think about creating work that makes Google's pages a little more inviting, a little more, dare one say it, exciting.

How strange it might be, in some optimistic future, if advertising created by outsiders actually helped Google with its business as well as advertisers with theirs.

The advent of Bing has shown that just a little aesthetic sense might, in fact, help to attract real people out there, those scouring the Web for anything that might brighten their day.

Just imagine if Google's and YouTube's pages were adorned with ads that offered wit, charm, and design sense as opposed to little blue words offering last minute vacations or little yellow words promising erectile function.

Might that be good for business? Might it even encourage YouTube, in particular, into a redesign?