Many industry executives expect sales growth of online brand advertising to outpace advertising related to Web search in the coming years, begging the question: How will search giant Google keep pace?

Here at Piper Jaffray's Global Internet Summit, a three-day confab of media executives and investors, a Google executive was posed a similar question, cast in the light of less-than-stellar results from the company's display advertising product so far.

"It's (in its) very early days," said Sheryl Sandberg, Google's vice president of global online advertising sales and operations. "When we think of display advertising, we think it's a space...that's beginning to grow."

Piper Jaffray analysts expect global search-advertising sales to grow by an estimated 40 percent this year, to $13.6 billion. In contrast, global brand ad sales are expected to be $11.7 billion, up 25 percent for the year. After 2007, however, sales growth will begin to favor display ads, such as banners on Web pages, over search, according to Piper Jaffray analysts and ad executives attending the conference.

That's a dramatic shift for search, given its triple and high double-digit growth rates since 2002.

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