We’ve been expecting them — now they’ve arrived: video ads on Google. Google Tests Video Ads on Search Results Pages from the New York Times has confirmation from Google that they are out there, though I haven’t seen anyone reporting them live and in the wild yet.
It really shouldn’t be that much of a shock for searchers. It seemed inconceivable a few years ago that Google could "ruin" (as some might think) its clean, fast loading page with graphic units of any type. But with Google Universal Search actively putting video content into regular editorial results — with virtually no bad reaction from searchers — video ads seem acceptable.
The question is, will video ads make sense in search results? Video in search results makes sense if someone is searching for that type of info — say "video of marriage proposals." But do people want to see videos as ads?
Perhaps. I could see someone searching for something like "snowboarding tips" and having a video ad coming up with those words under it. Clicking to play could get people to engage more in the content someone has to offer.
At first, the ads won’t be noticeable as with Universal Search. You’ll apparently see a small plus sign that lets a video be opened up. But that could – and you’d expect should rapidly — change. From the story:
Ms. Mayer said, however, that the company would explore adding small thumbnail photos to the video ads as well. And a spokesman said the company is considering testing other formats that may include ads with images. But it is taking a delicate approach.
The ads might look something like this:
Those are NOT REAL ACTUAL ADS! Since no one has yet spotted them, I’ve made a guess based how Google does video elsewhere, such as here on Google News:
Those images are from Google’s blog post last year about how video was integrated into Google News. AdWords units with video should have that same style plus symbol.
Cost? Nothing extra, so far — at least beyond the cost-per-click that advertisers are already playing. How to get going with them? Dunno — I’ve got a question out to Google on it, and I suspect it’s part of a closed beta. I don’t think it is making use of advertisers already in the AdSense For Video program, because those ads are not tied directly to textual ads, as is the case described in this new program.
FYI, video ads have made it to Google’s home page before, but nothing like as is coming now. "Google Promotion" Now Used To Flag Google’s Bourne Ultimatum Video Ads covers how this was done for the Bourne Ultimatum back in July, which in turn followed a previous outing for NBC during the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The ads, of course, are the ultimate turnaround from what Google said back in 2005:
There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site.
It’s hard not to say that video ads aren’t flashy. Heck, the Google Personalized Home Page program actively encourages people to put flashy doodads on Google. But as said, the changes with Universal Search make video ads on Google more acceptable. Google hinted they were coming back when Universal Search launched. Now, here they are.
Postscript: In terms of buying ads, Google tells me:
Advertisers pay on a CPC basis where any click counts. Meaning, if a user clicks on the URL link that counts as a click or if a user clicks to play the video (via the plus box) that also counts as a click. An advertiser only pays for one click. The ads will run through the normal auction. Right now it’s a closed, small test so advertisers have been selected who already have video assets and a current search campaign.
It will look like a regular shadow sponsor link with a plus in the corner. If you click on the plus it drops down a video player and plays the video. A user can click through to the advertiser’s site at any time and start or stop the video.