Google to give banner ad new lease of life

Google to give banner ad new lease of life

Google, the company that helped promote the trend for fast, clean and largely graphic-free design, is set to offer advertisers graphic ads for the very first time.

Google, which could be valued at as much as $45bn when it floats later this year, has announced that they will start testing the new ImageAds service this week.

In a statement issued by Google “Google image ads are matched to a web page’s content by the same proven targeting technology that drives AdWords text ads. Because of this targeting, image ads are highly pertinent to the interests of a person browsing a particular content site.”

The four formats on offer are leader board ads, skyscrapers, inline rectangles and banner ads: although they may not be quite what you expect.

Google's "banners" are 728 by 90 pixels; that's twice the width of the masthead you see at the top of the page, but much thinner.

Sounds like good commercial sense on Google’s behalf.

However, it is dependent on one large variable, the willingness of AdWords network sites and AdSense online publishers, to allow image based banner advertisements to be shown on their site.

AdSense publishers must manually log in to their AdSense account and give Google permission to run banner ads on their site, using the ad code, which traditionally delivers text only AdWords links.

According to a report commissioned by the web behaviour firm Bunnyfoot Universality, 60% of web users mistrust "any company that uses - or even hosts - pop-ups.

While most consumers understand and accept that some form of advertising is the trade-off for free content, the disruptive and persistent way pop-ups intrude is becoming intolerable to many online users.

However, according to a poll of 68 active online publishers on SitePoint’s Forums, web editors seem quite open to serving Google banners.

When they were asked “will you run Google AdSense image ads on your site?", 69% responded favourably. 31% of webmasters responded, “Of course, I’m very interested,” while 38% responded with a “Perhaps, need to see their earnings and targeting.”

15% of respondents were not sure on their opinion of running Google AdSense banner ads, while 16% responded with a “No way, I’m pure text and link!”

With Google’s success of Adwords / AdSense banner ads riding on the acceptance of web publishers, these preliminary numbers are a good sign for Google.

Tim Armstrong, vice president of Google’s advertising sales commented on the new leap of faith to CNet. “The noise in the advertising market is really going up over ROI (return on investment),” he said. “There was a pretty clear signal from advertisers that there is an opportunity to use Google’s relevance technology for images as well as text. Over the last 14 months, we’ve been able to grow a network of content publishers (that use AdSense), and the message was to make it more useful.”

The image ads will be limited to 50KB–much larger than the typical 1KB to 2KB used by text-only ads.

Google also said that they will ensure that the images have a minimal effect on load time for most sites.

Sources: Revolution, SitePoint, The Register, Topnic

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