Recently Google has been seen testing the display large banner ads (images) across the top of search results in the US for just particular big brands including South West Airlines.
You can read about this further, and see an example of the banner ad in this article in The Age newspaper.
It will be interesting to see if this change is made widely accessible in the near future, and of course, whether it comes to Australia – this is the usual path of tests of new Google functionality. I expect these banner ads to have strict requirements regarding their look and feel, and to be very expensive, given that Google is being accused of going back on a promise to keep the search engine free of large, flashing ads, ever.
Would you welcome banner ads like the one shown in the top of your search results?by