Google Gives Green Light to Video Ads

GM, Film Studios are First to Advertise Via AdSense

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Google has made no secret about its ambitions to become a bigger force in the branded-rich-media space and last week it launched video advertising on its AdSense network of publishers.

The program has been in beta testing for the past six weeks, said Gokul Rajaram, product-management director for AdSense, with such advertisers as Paramount Classics for the film "An Inconvenient Truth," Fox Home Entertainment for DVDs of "The Simple Life" and General Motors Corp. for its Pontiac G6. The ads can be served on any Google publisher that displays graphical ads from Google. The video ads are static and include a play button that activates the video.

Advertisers' reaction appears to be positive, especially as they seek out more opportunities to air video ads online. Wanda Young, director-interactive advertising for AllTel, said, "We are testing with different online video placements and hope to be smart about the use of it to extend our brand online without doing the wasteful exercise of dumping our traditional 30-second spot online."

AdSense is Google's non-search-advertising program, in which Web publishers allow Google to serve text or image ads on their sites. Ads are generally served contextually, because an advertiser has bid on a keyword associated with the site's topics, or based on site demographics, which Google counts on ComScore to identify.

For advertisers comfortable with AdSense, it will make video ads easier to deploy, and opening up all the image inventory in AdSense will increase total video inventory, said Bryan Wiener, CEO of interactive agency 360i. He noted that flexible pricing makes it friendly to both branded and direct-response advertisers.

"This should encourage more brand advertisers to use AdSense," he said, but added that Google's auction-based system and the user-initiated nature of the video ads will make it hard to predict the volume of video ads deployed. "Advertisers will need to run trial campaigns to see what percentage of users watch the video ads and how much these numbers vary by publisher and campaign."
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