Google Offers Banners & Image Ads — But Not On Google Itself

Google has debuted a new graphical ad option for its advertisers — the ability to run banners, skyscrapers and other image-based ad units. However, these ads won’t run on Google itself.

Instead, the graphical ad units are being launched initially for those who place ads through Google’s contextual AdSense program, which distributes Google ads on content sites across the web.

“We have found that image ads can do better on some sites depending on the type of site, layout and content,” said Salar Kamangar, director of product management at Google, explaining the move. “Both publishers and advertisers have been asking for this.”

The ads will only show up on Google content partners that choose to carry such units.

Mixing Images & Text

When image ads do appear, they will run in place of Google’s more traditional textual-based contextual ads, if Google determines that an image ad will be effective. This will be done by rotating image ads with text ads and monitoring clickthrough rates.

This also means that only one advertiser will get featured per AdSense placement rather than several. This will be the advertiser with the best ad as determined by clickthrough rate and price paid per click, Google says.

To be clear, publishers may run up to two AdSense slots on a page. For instance, they might have ads running in a slot along the right-hand side of a page and along the top of a page. Traditionally, these slots themselves would each carry a variety of ads.

In the new system, it’s possible that both slots might be taken up by image ads. If that happens, it would be one advertiser per slot — or a maximum of two per page. It’s also possible that one slot might carry an image ad while the other carries the traditional text-based ones.

Will Feedback Links Be An Issue?

The ads, as shown in these examples, all carry “feedback” links within them. Google says this is meant to let web surfers inform it of mistargeted ads. However, it’s possible advertisers may dislike to having this mechanism within their creative.

Advertisers objected vehemently when Google rolled out “related searches” functionality in its contextual ads last year, causing the company to drop these within a day.

Similar complaints might emerge from the inclusion of this feedback link, especially since the “Feedback – Ads by Google” link text works to help promote Google.

In contrast, while the ordinary textual-based contextual ads from Google also carry an “Ads By Google” line, this isn’t a hyperlink that could pull people way from the ads, nor does it appear within the creative area of these ads.

Search-Targeted Image Ads May Come

While the ads initially launch across those participating within Google’s content network, it’s possible that Google search partners such as AOL might use them in the future, Google says.

“We’re working with the content partners now, because that’s where we think the most immediate value is,” Kamangar said. However, he added that the ads will eventually be available to any Google partner, be they search or contextual.

For more about the program, advertisers can view the new information Google has posted online.

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