Google announced today a “limited beta” for AdWords/AdSense that pretty much declares Google’s intentions in the advertising business: The company is going to compete with everyone, on every front. The beta will be taken off in the “coming weeks” Patrick Keane, head of ad sales strategy at Google, told me late last week.
The new program allows advertisers to select where their ads might run and, just as importantly, let advertisers run image ads, a feature that has been in testing, but never as a CPM buy. Advertisers can also run animated gifs.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is Google as DoubleClick, Web 2.0 style (ie with an auction and with massive scale). Any pretense this has to do with search should be put to rest. This is an advertising play, pure and simple.
This move also shows Google is growing up, acting more like a business with its own agenda, as opposed to a engineering-driven playground where the coolest idea wins.
The Merc reports.
Update: I now see the Times piece. Well, it sure makes me out as anti-Google. I did say everything that I am quoted to say, however the context is off on the first section. I am quoted as saying:
“This drives the nail into the coffin of the idea that Google is a search business,” said John Battelle, the author of a coming book on Google called “The Search.”
“It is an advertising business that has nothing particularly to do with search.”
In fact, I was speaking of the new AdSense features, not all of Google, when I said that last bit. Just to be clear. Even the Times can miss context.
Update: Apparently, I was not clear in my conversation with Saul, he responds in the comments below. In any case, he got the quotes right. I should have been clearer in my intent – that in the case of this new move, it’s all about ads, and has nothing to do with search.