A glut of Google announcements

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As Internet advertising continues to attract attention, money and talent, the war between the major search engine companies is heating up.

This was underscored by a glut of announcements during the past week by search engine leader Google.

First, Google announced a high-profile hire: agency heavyweight Andy Berndt, co-president of Ogilvy & Mather’s Ogilvy New York, who will become managing director of the newly created Google Creative Lab when he joins Google later this year. According to Google, the Creative Lab will develop creative for Google’s own products and services for both business and consumer markets. It will also work on a “creative-to-creative level” with agencies around Google’s advertising platforms and products, a Google spokesperson said. But the lab will not work directly with marketers and is not setting up its own ad agency, the spokesperson said.

(Last month, Microsoft Corp. made personnel news of its own, announcing that aQuantive’s Brian McAndrews would start as senior VP-advertiser and publisher solutions, charged with building and managing ad platforms.)

In other Google news, last Wednesday the search engine announced it has introduced Google Gadget Ads, a new ad format, and is in an expanded beta test of Gadget Ads with a select group of AdWords advertisers, including Intel Corp. and Pepsi-Cola North America.

Gadget ads, which are built on an open platform, can incorporate real-time data feeds, images, video and other features in a single creative ad unit.

Google said the new ads are designed to act more like content than a typical ad, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement. The ads support both cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing models and offer contextual, site, geographic and demographic targeting options.

Google also announced last week it has begun offering an ad creation tool to help small and midsize advertisers create newspaper print ads with predesigned templates. The new tool is free and available to all AdWords advertisers. Google said that in addition to the newspaper ad tool, advertisers can chat with Print Ads account reps directly from the interface and access Google Print Ads directly from the AdWords Campaign Summary page.

But wait, there’s more. Google last week also announced AdSense for Mobile, a program that contextually targets ads to mobile Web site content, giving publishers a way to earn incremental revenue from their mobile Web sites.

With this collection of new tools and products, Google is making it far easier for advertisers to do business with the search engine.

“They continue to make Google a one-stop shop,” said Phil Gibson, VP-corporate marketing at National Semiconductor Corp. “They do a good job of promoting holistically the ad dollars you spend with them.”

He added, “They do a far better job than Yahoo.”

Gibson said Google’s products are compelling and they help further its dominance in the search advertising space.

“Gadgets are a perfect fit,” he said. “If they pull you into iGoogle as your portal to the world, they then ‘own’ your resident place to come every day. If they have you as a user, then that is the perfect advertising portal.”

These recent announcements also help businesses spend more on Google, he said.

“I’d never consider a newspaper program for National as a corporation, but if we wanted to advertise locally for a seminar … maybe now it’s a viable option. My local regional sales manager doesn’t have time to contact local newspapers to figure that out, but if there is an automated tool that enables that, then maybe it’s worth a try.”

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