Google Turns AdSense Into Video Outlet

NEW YORK After testing several different video ad formats, Google said it would again shun pre-roll video advertising for a new program to distribute video content across its far-flung AdSense network.

After tests over the past year, Google has opted to monetize video from YouTube professional video creators like Mondo Media, TV Guide, Expert Village and Extreme Elements with banners and text-ad overlays. Videos embedded on third-party sites will carry two ad placements: a banner at the top of the video player that can be either text links or a graphical display, and a text link ad at the bottom. There is no video advertising.

“This is about focusing on the best possible experience,” said Christian Oestlien, a business product manager at Google. “What we’ve seen with overlay ads is users stay much more engaged and end up interacting more with the ads more often.”

In its tests with Viacom’s MTV and others, Google tried various forms of video ads, including spots that appeared before and after clips. Google runs video ads from banner placements on sites in AdSense, but users must click to play them.

The move is the latest sign that Google does not plan to adopt the dominant form of video advertising online, the pre-roll placement, typically a repurposed 15-or 30-second TV spot. It already shunned pre-roll ads from video clips running on YouTube, choosing overlay ads that invite users to click to play videos or other advertiser rich-media content.

Unlike those spots, Google’s AdSense placements will not offer extra video content, but instead function like normal text ads, directing users to an advertiser Web site. Google will cull the placements from its several hundred thousand AdWords advertisers. It is targeting the placements based on content from the page and other data, Oestlien said. Like other AdSense placements, advertisers can bid on either a cost-per-click or cost-per-thousand-impressions basis.

Google has about 100 content partners and “several thousand” video clips to distribute through AdSense, which reaches 80 percent of Internet users, Oestlien said. Publishers will be able to choose the category of video to appear on their site or allow Google to target videos.

The move is a sign that Google sees its AdSense network as more than a place to run text-link advertising. With relationships with tens of thousands of small Web publishers, Google sees an opportunity for AdSense to become a new version of the portal: able to re-aggregate audiences whose attentions are fragmented across many online destinations.

“We think it addresses this whole notion of audience fragmentation that’s happening on the Web,” said Oestlien. “A lot of our video partners are living in a world where their audience is spread out across thousands of Web sites.”