Google Tests New AdSense, AdWords Formats

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SAN JOSE, CA -- New pilot programs from Google aim to give advertisers more control over the types of ads that appear, Gokul Rajaram, a group product manager for AdSense, told DM News during the opening day of Search Engine Strategies 2005 here yesterday.


AdSense is testing a program with a few publishers, letting them send more "signals" about their Web site, to better tailor ads. Though AdSense already uses signals based on the content of Web sites, such as headlines and font sizes, to generate ads, this would let advertisers tailor ads based on their users' demographics and other signals, which are yet to be determined.


"We realized there is benefit in allowing publishers to tell us more about the page, [information that is] not directly on the page," Rajaram said. "This will give publishers potentially more control over what ads are being shown."


The type of signal would depend on the type of Web site. A music site may send Google information that its users are mainly young males, for example, and Google would use that information to target ads.


"They could send us a list of topics that users of this site are interested in," Rajaram said.


Eventually, Google will roll out the program to more publishers, Rajaram said.


Meanwhile, Google's AdWords is testing a new ad size that allows room for more text. Google is working with a group of advertisers, testing ad copy with descriptive content of up to 200 characters, instead of the previous limit of 95 characters, or about 10 words.


More information could raise conversion rates in some cases, Rajaram said.


"In some cases, it would give the users more information about what the ad is about, before they click on it -- and advertisers would be able to get clicks that are more qualified," Rajaram said.


"We want the advertisers and publishers to have as many options as possible," Rajaram added. "Our system automatically makes a decision on whether to show the longer or shorter creative, based on what is performing best of the advertiser."


Though the longer format may or may not be adopted, search marketing analysts say the longer ads might be less profitable for Google.


"The monetization rate for less, longer ads probably is inferior to more, shorter ads in the search environment," said Kevin Lee, chief operating officer of search marketing firm Did-it.com, New York.


"Google will be less likely to use the longer creative units, except perhaps across the top of the page, because Google is usually more interested in giving searchers more choice down the right rail," Lee said.


Still, the longer units may work better across the contextual or non-search portions of Google's network, where users are less likely to notice ads, according to Lee.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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