free html hit counter Google Does Rich Media Ads (Like the Rest of The World), But With A Few New Twists - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google Does Rich Media Ads (Like the Rest of The World), But With A Few New Twists

By - September 18, 2007

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It’s happened: Google has embraced rich media, and true to the company’s history, it’s taken what everyone is already doing, and added some cool twists based on innovations across the market. (This move was noted by many, including Niall).

But this is not just “ads as widgets.” It’s leveraging the media plan as the message (sorry, McLuhan). At FM, we’ve also created some of these units (our ads driven by RSS feeds, for example, won FM a Webby honor). And it’s certainly true that advertisers like ’em.

I’m particularly pleased with the use of “conversations” in the release, as well as a step toward what I’ve termed “sell side advertising” – the idea of putting your ads out there and letting the publishers/people drive them. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s nice validation nevertheless. Here’re the juicy bits of the release:

Google AdWords Introduces Google Gadget Ads, a New Interactive Ad Format

Engaging and flexible ad units give advertisers a new way to communicate with users online

Mountain View, Calif. – September 19, 2007 – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the introduction of Google Gadget Ads™, a new interactive ad format that is currently in an expanded beta with a select group of AdWords™ advertisers worldwide. Gadget ads – non-traditional ad units with interactive, rich media capabilities – not only enable advertisers to target audiences in a flexible and timely manner via regular updates within the ad unit, but also allow users to engage with ad content in a way static ads haven’t facilitated in the past.

Gadget ads can incorporate real-time data feeds , images, video and much more in a single creative unit and can be developed using Flash, HTML or a combination of both.

Designed to act more like content than a typical ad, they run on the Google™ content network, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement. They support both cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing models, and offer a variety of contextual, site, geographic and demographic-targeting options to ensure the ads reach relevant users with precision and scale. Gadget ads are also built on an open platform, allowing anybody from individual advertisers to agencies to set up and run ads on the Google content network, the world’s largest global online ad network. Plus, gadget ads will not command any serving or hosting costs.

Feedback from preliminary beta participants, including brand advertisers such as Pepsi-Cola North America’s Sierra Mist, Intel, Honda, Six Flags and Paramount Vantage, has been overwhelmingly positive. Advertisers are enthusiastic about this fresh marketing solution that empowers them to have conversations with targeted users through rich, dynamic and engaging content.


In addition, users can build active communities with gadget ads by sharing them with each other and placing them on nearly any webpage, including personalized iGoogle pages. These portability and sharing capabilities simultaneously generate additional free traffic and help foster a sense of community between advertisers and users. Detailed interaction reports allow marketers to track dozens of actions within the creative unit and optimize toward their goals. To learn more about Google Gadget Ads, visit

It’s not quite sell side advertising, yet, but it’s a big step. And a long walk away from those original, cute, text based adwords of yesteryear.

The question is, as Google starts to innovate across its content network, will large publishers who have NOT adopted these kinds of units start to take Google’s ads, particularly if they begin to threaten those publisher’s traditional sales channels? This is not an idle question, it’s a very real one. Google was not threatening to a publisher’s core competencies when the ads it served were great backfill for unsold inventory. Google always pitched its network as supplementing a publisher’s in house sales force. But these kinds of ads may well overcome them. Do publishers really want to outsource their relationships with their revenue to Google? Innovations like these will force the question. And the creation of in house creative/agency competencies, as noted before, will push the other side of the equation – the agencies.

Innaresting, indeed.

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4 thoughts on “Google Does Rich Media Ads (Like the Rest of The World), But With A Few New Twists

  1. nmw says:

    Indeed, pizzazz could be a good — if it weren’t for the spelling variants (and it might even be interpreted as a gizmo for counting pizzaz — before going to sleep …. zz… 😉

    It might be a hard-sell, though, to put this over as if it were quitessentially Google. For those of us who knew and loved Google from day 1, there is more betrayal than substantiation in them thar pills….

    🙂 nmw

    ps/BTW: did you link to the actual press release somewhere? Perhaps German readers might get a kick out of “Sierra Mist” — maybe something they could “squeeze more out of”?!? ;D

  2. SorenG says:

    This is cool — and Google as we knew them is changing, clearly.

  3. JG says:

    users can build active communities with gadget ads by sharing them with each other and placing them on nearly any webpage

    Sigh. There was once a day in our society where “active community” meant that you and your 19 best mates could raise a barn together within a day. Or where “active community” meant a large number of folks who took their civic duty seriously.

    Now? “Active community” means that we can share gadget ads with each other.

    It makes me cringe.

  4. Chas Edwards says:

    John: Your headline captures it. While FM (with Symantec) and TechMeme launched RSS-powered ads a year ago, most other aspects of Google’s new ad formats are much older. I was at CNET in 2000 when they helped the IAB roll out rich media “interactive messaging units.” But, hey, if it takes Google’s clout to convince marketers that the internet is a platform for richer messaging and brand-building — godspeed.