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Google Launches AdSense For Video, AdWords Next

As it prepares to begin quietly testing video ads on its search results pages, Google today publicly announced AdSense for video, a beta program for advertisers to place banner or overlay ads on video content across a network of partner sites.

In substance, the two programs differ widely, but they share a common theme: the recognition that video advertising on the Web is a great, untapped oil field. Interactive marketers have been racing to develop, test and promote the model that will drill into that reservoir and make good on the assurances of bonanza monetization proffered by the likes of eMarketer and other forecasters.

AdSense for video will extend the InVideo format that has allowed YouTube Partners to monetize their content without disrupting the viewing experience.

InVideo ads appear at the bottom of a Flash player window on the content site while the video is playing. The advertiser has the option of including a video of its own that expands when a user clicks on the placement at the bottom.

Also competing in the auction are text overlay ads, which, though not interactive, offer advertisers the advantage of contextual placement.

Advertisers will now be able to run a coordinated campaign across YouTube and Google's video partner sites, such as Revver, MyDamnChannel and GodTube. It is also working with video syndication networks like YuMe.

Even site owners with no video content of their own can cash in on AdSense for video. The program will allow third-party sites to integrate ad-enabled video units from select YouTube Partners, offering them a share of the revenue split.

AdSense for video has burst on the scene with a full complement of launch partners and a detailed tutorial for advertisers and publishers available on Google's Web site. Video for AdWords isn't quite there yet, but it's coming.

[cob:Related_Articles]Google's AdWords, which places sponsored links alongside search results, is probably the most recognizable face of Internet advertising. Web searchers have become accustomed to the unobtrusive sponsored links that appear on the right side of a results page. But now, those placements will no longer be confined strictly to text ads.

In a trial program, set to begin this week, Google will being pairing video ads with search results. Mindful of the inevitable user backlash against any move that would add clutter to its stark results pages, Google is taking pains to ensure that the video ads are discrete, said company spokesman Brandon McCormick.

On the top or right side of a results page, a sponsored link containing a video will appear with a plus sign reading "watch video." If the user clicks on the plus sign, a video will launch; clicking on the link itself will navigate the user to the advertiser's Web site.

So at least for now, Googlers will not be distracted by flashing lights or dancing pigs in Flash windows when trying to conduct their Internet errands. McCormick also said that Google is not experimenting with image ads at this point. However, display ads seem a likely next step if European regulators approve the acquisition of DoubleClick, as expected.

Video advertisements will participate in the same AdWords auction as text ads, but the clickthrough fees will be assessed differently. With AdWords videos, the action of watching the video counts as a clickthrough, regardless of whether the user then chooses to navigate to the page. If the user clicks through to the advertiser's page after watching the video, the advertiser is still only charged for one clickthrough.

So when will users begin to see video ads appearing on search results pages? "It's still a very early test at this point," McCormick told InternetNews.com. The experimental program is placing video spots on a very small percentage of search pages, gauging how consumers react to the new ads and, of course, how much value they will hold for advertisers.

Eduardo Llach, co-founder and CMO of search engine marketing firm SearchRev, is optimistic about the prospect of adding rich media to search results, provided it's done judiciously.

"I am a supporter of Google using other non-text ad units on their search results pages. The important issue is that they need to be relevant to the results," Llach told InternetNews.com. "If Google can classify the videos and ensure the keyword, creative [and] landing page are all coherent and relevant, then the user will have a consistent and satisfying experience."