Get ready for a new kind of ad that may appear when you search with Google.

The company is inviting advertisers to help test new "product ads" that display photos and prices of products for sale, including specific offers based on your search. It's a new program that looks like a response to Microsoft and a challenge to

These new ads could change the look of Google search results, if you're using the site to look for information about products. The testing is going to begin soon in just a few, unspecified areas of the U.S.

But the program is apparently designed not to change the consumer experience as much as give companies using Google's affiliate program more options to sell their wares.

It's probably been in the works for a while, but the timing is interesting, coming as Microsoft repositions its Web-search service as a better tool for shopping. Microsoft's Bing search service includes a number of product-shopping features for consumers and vendors, returning product images, prices and specific offers when you search for, say, an Apple iPod.

Brier Dudley | Google gives product ads a go | Seattle Times Newspaper