Google Intros ‘Gadget Ads’

NEW YORK Google is making another foray into brand advertising with the introduction of “Gadget Ads,” rich media units designed to appeal to large marketers.

With Google Gadget Ads, advertisers can create standard-size Internet display ads that include video clips, games, maps and real-time news feeds, among other features. The ads require user initiation to begin animation. The placements will be sold through Google’s auction service on either a cost-per-click or cost-per-thousand basis.

The move is the latest by Google designed to appeal to brand advertisers and their agencies. The company’s AdSense network has gained some traction with brands, although it remains far more popular for direct-response campaigns. Initially known for its text links, Google has expanded options to include graphical ads, video and now rich media placements.

“Google has never had a creative format that delivers an open canvas for advertisers and agencies,” said Christian Oestlien, business product manager at Google.

Bringing such Web 2.0 functionality to banner ads has the potential to transform them from nuisances or easily ignored distractions to desirable utilities, he said. Example: Honda ran a campaign tied to its sponsorship of Fall Out Boy’s tour that invited user questions for the band, and fed back videotaped answers directly into the unit.

Yet, Google is offering functionality that has been done before, according to Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, a New York digital agency that tested Google Gadget Ads for the movie Kickin’ It Old Skool.

“No technological paradigm has shifted,” he said. Yet the ad format holds real promise based on what Google brings to the table: vast, relatively low-priced distribution through its AdSense network and a willingness to offer creation and serving for free.

“We’re trying to use our infrastructure to take costs out of the equation,” said Oestlien.

This cuts the cost of running a rich media campaign through Google 30-50 percent, estimated Sean Muzzy, group planning director at Neo@Ogilvy, which ran a campaign for Six Flags.

“It’s a huge cost benefit,” he said.

Google is also uniting several of its products with the unit, allowing advertisers to host videos on YouTube, utilize Google Maps and download the gadgets to iGoogle.