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Brand Page Thumbnails Now Showing In Google Personalized Results!

Google giveth and Google taketh away. And then Google giveth again.

Yesterday I told you that while Google has now removed all author photos from regular Google search, Google+ posts from people in your circles who are seen as highly relevant to you can still show author photos when you search logged in to your Google+ account ("personalized" or "private" search).

Now today I'm seeing something I've never seen before (except in very brief tests): "Publisher" images next to Google+ brand page search results for brands I have in my circles!

UPDATE: I should clarify that this is something new for US searchers. Some non-US versions of Google have been showing brand pages thumbnails in results for a while now.
Terry Simmonds's profile photoMark Timberlake's profile photoBrian Jensen's profile photoMark Traphagen's profile photo
Does this seem inconsistent to you, +Mark Traphagen? Profile images were removed for the sake of the mobile experience, but brand thumbnails are somehow OK? 
+Mike Allton first, this is in personalized search only. Second, just as with author photos, it is extremely limited.

So you will only see these for Google+ posts (not web content) that are from people in your G+ circles whom Google+ sees as highly relevant to you.
+Karen Foreman-Brown as I said in my post, I already reported that. But only when you search logged in and only for people Google+ sees as highly relevant to you.
So +Mark Traphagen the million dollar question is: how does Google determine relevancy in this case? Only brands you follow? What about displaying authorship (publishership?) for a brand you do not follow but is highly relevant? 
+Matt Hoff you can see "relevancy" of pages and profiles to you in the "Your Circles" tab of the People section in Google+. 

How exactly Google+ determines such relevancy has been something we've debated for three years now ;-) We do know for persons, if they are in your Gmail contacts they will shoot to the top even if they don't use Google+.

For other people and brands, how much you engage with each other would be the best guess.
I like seeing our logo in the SERPs ;)
Means: Working here.
+Karen Foreman-Brown Google is severely restricting these, which fits with their assertion that they were eliminating them entirely on logged out search for reasons of mobile bandwidth and screen space.

In other words, they aren't showing these in every instance where they could, and only one or two per page at the most. 

It may be that my post was seen as the most relevant to your particular search query.
+Mark Traphagen I have a feeling this isn't going to be the first change to authorship. Seems like a product that is getting a lot of traction at Google. Good info. I just started following you about a week ago and have learned more about the intricacies of authorship and potential future author rank than anywhere else over the past few years 

Also- I edited my question after a closer reading of your original post before I saw your reply- sorry about that! 
Hmm - in each case I simply searched for the individual's name. Mobile search.
+Olivier Duffez  it looks like you are non-US, correct? Some non-US versions of Google have had brand images for some time. We have never had them in the US (except for very brief experiments), so I'll clarify that in my post.
It's amazing the number of people who still don't know the difference between personal or private search results and natural search results. I wonder how many businesses are being snowed by unscrupulous seo's 
+Mark Traphagen Wow, try to take a Sunday afternoon off and see what I miss.
Thanks for this update, Mark.
Are most searches on mobile "public" since most people use apps as opposed to browsers to search and use Google products?

If that's true, then "Private" searches that show your most relevant G+ connections aren't largely irrelevant on mobile.
Yep been out in the UK for months. Makes a change to get a head start on the centre of the world.
Anyone else seeing some inconsistency here?

Why are images being shown at all, if they affect the "user experience"?

The logged in, not logged in rationale makes no sense.

The argument goes like this:

1. Not logged in - you must have a good user experience.
2. Logged in - you are okay to have your results over run with images that damage the user experience.

Anyone else notice the inconsistency with this, or is it just me?
+Mark Timberlake - I have been trying to mention the very same point. Hard to get heard above all the marketing guru noise surrounding this.

Google's explanation doesn't hold water. Simple as that.

In my opinion it was a business driven decision NOT an atheistic one. I would imagine it ties in with sponsored SERP and promoted posts.

Google probably found CTR for paid SERP took a drop and/or large advertisers complained about increased competition for "real estate" on the first page of search.

The more cluttered it becomes with profile images the less the big brands get click through.

It has very little to do with making my Smartphone screen and laptop screen look the same.
I doubt we have seen the last of Google testing authorship and/or publisher in SERPs. They may decide to remove brand profile pics at a future date. Who knows? We can't state it is down to one thing or another while they are clearly still testing the waters.
+Alan Stainer - completely agree. So for Mr Google to state "it's to harmonise the search experience" is a quote straight from the white-wash bucket load of quotes.

I never inhaled, my trousers always have white marks on them, I always wear lipstick on my collar, we want to make desktop and mobile (24" screen v 2" screen) search look the same.

Utter codswallop.

Google is in the business of selling adverts (and products to a degree). The less people click sponsored results in search, the less revenue Google have.

Times are tough out there.
+Malcolm Oakley If I look at this in the most positive light, what I see is some internal inconsistencies within Google.

Calling them to task is our responsibility as users.

So is this internal inconsistency within the organisation, or is it "spin".

I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but will wait to see if there is any response to this, as they will be  monitoring these conversations.

I think this also indicates the power of social accountability, the users are asking questions, can Google now respond in an appropriate social manner and clear up this confusion?

After all, they built Google+ because they recognise the importance of social openness and transparency, didn't they?
+Mark Timberlake and +Malcolm Oakley I have pointed out several times now that there is a major difference here. 

These author photos and page logos in personalized search are extremely limited. You only see them if something from a highly relevant to you person or page in your circles posted something relevant to your query.

Furthermore, even if there is more than one person or page who fits that bill, in my tests so far only one will get a photo. 

So no, this is not the same as the former author photos, which for some queries could show anywhere from 4-10 photos per SERP page.

Be sure you're comparing apples to apples.
+Mark Traphagen 

How can Google say that images are bad for one type of search, then images are good for another type of search?

Number of images are irrelevant.

The key point that Google made was that author images were not beneficial as they made it look clumsy in mobile search.

Then they act in completely the opposite manner and include images in personalised search.

Regardless of the number of images being shown, what we are seeing is inconsistency here.

There is a contradiction here that Google should explain.
Lets look at this another way +Mark Traphagen , if a few images in one search "don't matter", then why remove ALL the authorship images in the first place from general search...

It is inconsistent, that is my point and I would like to understand the inconsistency, especially when I am explaining these changes to clients.
+Mark Timberlake I can't keep repeating myself. Yes. There is a big difference between many and few images on a page.

If you want to believe Google is lying, then make up your own conspiracy theory. It's easy to do, just browse YouTube on random ;-)
Thanks for the ping here +Mark Traphagen, this is a very interesting development! It's funny, I'm remembering to the earlier days of Authorship when there were attempts to get brand images in Search by using branded images for profiles. Google shut that down pretty quickly.

Here we are now losing people's faces in Search and starting to see brands instead. Full circle comes to mind ;)

Incidentally, I am still seeing Authorship photos in personalized search. For, "Stone Temple Consulting" I see yours and +Eric Enge's photos in my personalized results, but neither in public results. I was hoping to see one of these branded results, but perhaps I'll have to try a few more queries.   
+Mark Traphagen
It would only be a conspiracy theory if a conspiracy had been stated.

That is not the case, a a conspiracy theory has not been presented by myself.

The fact remains, that Google stated that images in search were not good for the user experience.

Then on the other hand are acting contrary to that by using images in search.

This is a basic logical fallacy:

1. Images are bad in search
2. Images are not bad in search

Now if they could explain why the user experience in general search requires the removal of images, whilst the user experience in personal search does not require the removal of images, then this debate would be over.
+Mark Traphagen +David Kutcher here is an interesting little side note. while we were having this discussion I searched my site like this; street punk productions, publisher. Just to see what would come up. Doing it that way gives me a result that lists who has +1'd the site under the result for my home page. Kind of interesting. Here is a link to a screenshot of the result. I was signed into the search engine at the time.
+Michael Johnston that part isn't new. Google has included such an annotation, at least in logged in US search, for a long time now.
I think as +Mark Timberlake points out; it's the fact that Google told everyone that profile images are not good for unified search that is the mystery here.

You surly cannot deny those apples can you +Mark Traphagen ?

Google did say that profile images in search did not make for a good user experience. So the more this unravels the more we all start to think outside the box a little.

It's not images to the left of search results that Google has an issue with. It is images of people to the left of a search result that Google has an issue with.

I think (as do others) that it is perfectly acceptable to ask the question of Google.

The off the cuff statement last week about profile images being bad for search across devices seems an excuse; not an answer.
ah, don't usually see it though and since they removed circle counts I wonder why they didn't get rid of +1 counts as well since they are somewhat similar both being from Google+
It's not new, at least in the spanish market. It's been a long time since Google was showing brand pages thumbnails in results, just if you have the brand page in your circles. 
+Mark Timberlake The flaw in your thinking is to assume that results are equal under all circumstances.

Google found that a general use of rich snippet author pics did not improve their product. However, they appear to have different data with regards to when a social connection exists that is relevant. E.G. While the pics didn't improve Search on the whole, they can improve relevance of Search results between accounts that have formed a social connection through G+ in some circumstances.

El Goog doesn't practice that sort of limited "This-or-That" thinking. Same way there's no AuthorRank in Search but some in In Depth Articles... one makes the product better, the other as yet would not.
BTW, been doing some side-by-side testing with friends, some of whom are active on G+ and some not so much.

We're seeing that the author photos and brand logos for G+ content only show if you have been actively engaging with that person or brand. So these are really strong recommendations only for people or brands you have shown some involvement with.
+Mark Traphagen hover over a result in the SERPS where you see a brand image.

Have you seen any with a vanity URL rather than the id number?
Edit to add: not after you have clicked it and been redirected
+Mark Traphagen Try checking authors too.
Only time I see an image is when it is the old id number rather than a custom URL
Try a few people.

When it's a post made by a custom URL = no image

post made by old id number = shows image

Try a site: name of person search on a number of people.
I see what you mean. It appears to me that the posts with a custom URL are being drawn from the person's profile page (because they have only the person's name and "Google+" as the link but no post title) whereas the ones with an ID number are direct from the post itself.
I suspect it is because the Author tag on a post always points to the id number (which then 302's)

I have seen examples where the same post appears twice in the SERPs

1. with the custom URL
2. with the id number

The custom URL outranks the id number, but the id number has the image, see screenshot here - (results 1 and 7)
+Brian Jensen want to caveat that it is very limited in its implementation. Appears to only show up for brands you've circles and engaged with. Did some test searches yesterday with users who post on G+ but have never engaged with the brands they have circled. We could not get any logo results to show up for them.
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