Google Looks Beyond YouTube For Video Ad Dollars

Video Publishers Would Sell Their Inventory Using Google's Ad Tech

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Google logo 3x2

Google has a new message for premium publishers: "Hey, let us help you sell your video ads."

Google has created a new ad-buying program for premium publishers to automate their video ad sales in a bid to expand their video business beyond YouTube.

The company already helps some publishers manage the sale of their video ads, but this new program called Partner Select aims to centralize some of that work into a video marketplace in a bid to persuade publishers and advertisers to consolidate more of their digital video sales and buys with the search giant.

Partner Select will not be a free-for-all open to any publisher looking to make a penny off their video clips. Google is only inviting a certain number of publishers to sell their pre-roll and mid-roll ads. A Google spokesperson declined to name any publishers that have signed on to the program, but the company would like to position it as concentrated on high quality, or premium, video. "Our focus is on top publishers creating high-quality video content," the spokesperson said.

Already the dominant in search and display, Google wants to stake a similar claim on the digital video ad market. Through YouTube, Google netted 20.5% of the $4.15 billion U.S. online video ad market in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates. Google still has untapped supply on its video service, but to eat up more share of the market it is looking outside its own sites with Partner Select.

Despite owning the preeminent ad-supported online video service in YouTube, Google has far from cornered the video ad market. In April video ads run on Google's sites reached 35% of the U.S. population, according to comScore. That's less than AOL which reached 38%, thanks largely to its acquisition last year of video ad exchange Adap.tv. Google also lagged behind video ad exchanges BrightRoll (53.8%) and LiveRail (42.0%) and ad network Specific Media (42.9%).

Partner Select is effectively a semi-private, video ad exchange. Advertisers will place bids on inventory through real-time auctions that will span all the publishers' video inventory in the exchange. Ad-tech companies that specialize in this high-frequency ad trading -- demand-side platforms and agency trading desks -- will be able to buy ads through Partner Select.

Publishers will be able to pick and choose which placements they sell through Partner Select, but neither their sales teams nor Google's are ultimately doing the selling. Google's computers are. An advertiser tells Google's computers what audience they're looking to target with however many ads at what price. Those computers then match the advertisers' buy with the inventory available across all the publishers in Partner Select to find the best match and run the ads.

Google gets an undisclosed cut of the revenue publishers receive from selling ads through Partner Select.

The Google spokesperson declined to comment on whether advertisers will be able to specify which Partner Select publishers they do or do not want to buy ads from or whether Google will tell advertisers on what sites their ads ran after a buy is placed.

Advertisers stand to have more control and transparency through another automated ad-buying program Google is announcing on Wednesday. In addition to the Partner Select marketplace, Google has set up a way to automate the direct dealings between media buyers and publishers' ad sales teams. That is, publishers such as NewFronts presenters would be able to use Google's ad-tech products to process any upfront commitments signed with an advertiser. Essentially Google is simply streamlining the workload of taking a direct-sold deal from the negotiation table to consumers' screens.

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