NEW YORK Google, whose AdWords program has solely relied on text-based ads, is opening it up to banners, leaderboards, rectangles and skyscrapers.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which started testing the idea yesterday, said that the image ads initially would be served on the content pages of its publisher network, but not its own properties.
The more than 2-year-old AdWords program lets marketers create their own ads and bid on keywords to dictate where the ads are displayed on Google's network of search and content Web sites. It will continue to operate in the same manner, except that now advertisers can upload image ads.
Just as it does for text ads, Google's targeting technology will match the most relevant image ads to a Web page's content. The AdWords ranking formula (cost-per-click x click-through rate), used to determine which ads will be shown, remains the same.
Publishers in Google's AdSense program, like Knight Ridder and HowStuffWorks, can choose whether they want to accept image ads in addition to text ads and also decide where these ads will appear on their sites.