Google has long been seeking to diversify its revenue base and ad products to attract more ad dollars and different types of advertisers. There’s a lot more money, for example, in brand advertising than in direct response. The YouTube acquisition was partly about getting more display/brand ad dollars. Google’s DoubleClick acquisition was also about targeting the online display/brand segment. In addition, the company has created a new “President, Display Ads” position. Google has also built out Radio Ads, Print Ads and TV Ads to expand the reach of its network. The new announcements today are consistent with these brand ambitions: Expanded TV Ads distribution and a new do-it-yourself display ad builder.
Taking the new display ad builder first, it offers an apparently very simple way for anyone to create an online display unit (or units plural). Of course, once created, those ad units can be served wherever AdSense may go. Here’s a short video demo:
Depending on your point of view this is either validation of AdReady or an “AdReady killer.” AdReady targets small business (SMB) advertisers who don’t have agencies to build their creative (akin to what SpotRunner, Spotzer and others are doing for video). It will be interesting to see who adopts this tool. Notwitstanding the fact that most of Google’s advertisers technically qualify as SMBs, small businesses are very difficult to acquire as advertisers. This is also AdReady’s problem with a self-service offering.
Alternatively, will larger advertisers wind up using this tool? It’s not clear. They have agencies to do this. But some number of marketers will undoubtedly take advantage of it however.
In general display and CPM advertising has been on a flat-to-downward trend online. It’s much softer than search for example in this recessionary economy.
One of the reasons is that there’s an excess of supply. It’s also true that the industry has standardized around the click as the measure of value. That’s shortsighted. Clicks don’t reveal branding impacts and other latent and less tangible effects of online display advertising. Plenty of research has shown the benefits of running search and display campaigns together. (My Search & Display panel went into this in detail at SMX East.)
Perhaps Google is hoping to promote this notion of search and display working together and bring some SEM folks over to display. Yahoo, for its part, has been discussing the relationship of search and display for years. Being able to offer both to realize their combined “synergies” was one of the stated reasons why Yahoo didn’t want to sell its search business to Microsoft.
As with any Google announcement there’s always the question of who it will negatively impact — more sensationally “kill.” I’ve already cited AdReady as a potential beneficiary/victim. Whether this will affect Yahoo, the online display king, is another question. (AOL’s Platform A/Advertising.com is another that could be impacted.) The earlier entry of MySpace and Facebook into the online display market created competition and put downward pressure on CPM ad rates.
A conceptual cousin of Google Display Ads is TV Ads. TV Ads aren’t all about branding; they can have direct response elements too. But both Display Ads and TV Ads are more about branding than they are direct response.
On the latter front, Google announced a deal with Harris Corporation, which helps manage TV inventory for various media companies. This deal (from a publisher perspective, AdSense for TV) is very much like the value proposition Google offers to newspapers with Print Ads: TV companies and broadcasters (publishers) get access to additional advertiser inventory (and revenue) that they don’t have to sell. Google TV advertisers get additional distribution.
Both AdSense for Display and AdSense for TV aim to give more options and more tools to both direct response and brand-oriented advertisers. They also aim to further broaden Google’s reach — into different ad categories and advertiser budgets.
Postscript: Google Appoints DoubleClick Boss to Oversee Display Ads covers how former DoubleClick chief executive David Rosenblat has been named into the new Google position of president, display ads, a further sign of how seriously the company is taking the display ad space.