Thursday, May 13, 2004
Google. Banners. In the Same Sentence.
This is a very significant announcement, since, as most are aware, Google doesn't really do pictures and flashy stuff. Until recently, it's been pretty much all about text.
Yes. As of now, Google's into the rich media game. [Here's a look at the available creative formats now available to AdWords content-targeting advertisers.]
But let's get serious. Although this will shake up the media buying and selling business just as PPC text listings already have, it's actually somewhat evolutionary, and won't come as a surprise to anyone who's looked at the competitive realities of the online advertising business.
We've already seen Google's beta of Froogle. Pictures of products. We've seen what they do to spruce up the site on holidays. Cute drawings. We've seen Sergey and Larry in nearly every business magazine. Photos, photos, and more photos. And we've seen little graphics on the site to denote Google News items (stylized newspaper icons, etc.)
This tells me two things.
First, Google's "beliefs" and "principles" are adhered to more dogmatically on Google Search than elsewhere in their suite of products and services. This is as much for positioning and clarity purposes as it is about not "doing evil." (There's nothing evil about a graphic, just unstrategic and unwelcomed by search engine users.) In short, they're brilliant marketers. This became quite obvious to me when I observed the development of the Adsense program for content publishers. Google simply did not apply the same standards to that implementation as they did to the AdWords program itself. No minimum relevancy cutoff, no particular emphasis on the user experience outside of some vague sense that text was less obtrusive than a banner. Obtrusiveness was something that Google clearly cared more about vis-a-vis Google's own site than what happened on content partner sites.
After all, publishers need to make their own business decisions about how to sell media on their own sites. The existing AdSense program gave them few options, and trapped publishers in an orthodox, singular approach to listings which limited them to a smaller-than-optimal pool of potential advertisers.
Second, then, it proves that there were major shortcomings all along to the content targeting program. It was pretty good for users, but not much good to many publishers who still have plenty of advertisers who'd love to see their rich media banners up there. Some advertisers apparently still believe in branding by spending as much money as possible on campaigns that make an emotional impact. It shouldn't be the publisher's job to talk them out of that.
Bottom line: this is a step forward for Google's revenue picture and an addition of much-needed choice for publishers. It's a huge threat to some of the online ad brokers who currently trade in rich media. Some users may feel it is a step backward. So, you can expect the preponderance of early press reports to focus on the "critics" of the new program, claiming that it's a "step backward" for Google, when in fact it's quite the opposite. You might even hear some say that it's "evil." Since the "not doing evil" thing was actually balderdash all along -- more about clarity in setting the tone for Google Search and what users could expect from it (as mentioned above, arguably more marketing-driven than principled) -- this seems more like a much-needed injection of market choices for publishers and advertisers. They don't have to show the banners, and if the revenues produced by the rich media aren't robust, they won't. No one's holding a gun to their heads.
I'll change my tune in a second, of course, if they start to sell pop-ups.
As buyers of the ads on behalf of clients, we still have a wish list for the AdSense program. We still don't see the ability to control our ad delivery by publisher, by category, by channel, etc. When Google finally gets that figured out, they and their publishers are going to profit even more, because larger advertisers can and will outbid one another just to have their banner ads appear prominently on particular sites. This auction model, so profitable already for major players in the PPC space, is still only half-baked. There is still room for plenty of growth.
View Posts by Category
Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.
And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.
Posts from 2002 to 2010